Digital Border Zones and the Racialized Frontier of Rightlessness

Authors: Daniel Gonzalez*, University of Illinois
Topics: Migration, Ethnicity and Race, Urban Geography
Keywords: Borders, Digital Geographies, Racialization, Spaces of Rightlessness, Labor
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/10/2018
Start / End Time: 2:40 PM / 4:20 PM
Room: Beauregard, Marriott, 5th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Borders, like all forms of racialized power, are relational systems that traverse the social field, and take on multiple forms across space and time. They are “connected to a range of policy instruments, including visa application processes, passport and security checks, immigration raids, transportation operator sanctions and detention facilities which are situated at a distance from the border” (Vigneswaran, 2013). Borders also are connected to subject formation as they mark people as (un)documented, and determine who is (un)deserving of human and civil rights. This paper explores how digital technologies allow Chicago's branch of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to travel thousands of miles to code surplus labor as 'undocumented' rendering them rightless across social space. It analyzes city documents and newspaper archives, and employs semi-structured interviews to understand how ICE uses digital technology, and how this transforms the geometries of the US-Mexico frontier. In doing so the paper directs attention to the obscure ways digital technology is mutating geographies of rightlessness, which is particularly salient in the current political climate. Sources: Vigneswaran, Darshan. Territory, migration and the evolution of the international system. Springer, 2013.

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