Sounding the geography of the US-Mexico Border

Authors: Jared Margulies*, University of Alabama
Topics: Political Geography, Cultural and Political Ecology, Field Methods
Keywords: political geography, US-Mexico border, soundscape, more-than-human geography, post humanism
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/10/2021
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:20 PM
Room: Virtual 32
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


In this paper I reflect on practicing more-than-human political geography at the US-Mexico border through multisensory fieldwork with particular attention to sound. In sounding the border I suggest the theoretical breadth and diversity of subjects germane to more-than-human political geography demands equally heterodox and creative methodological practices. This was pursed through a series of interventions into multisensorial geographical practice at Otay Moutain, near the US-Mexico border between San Diego, California and Tijuana, México in 2019 and 2020. I discuss the practices of sounding borderscapes to develop deeper engagement with borderscapes as affective more-than-human geographies marked by state violence, fear, and danger. I suggest ways in which less traditional modes of sensing can attune researchers to the places and spaces of nonhuman life in political studies of the environment and how they resonate and reverberate through borders as violent spaces. Research pursued through multiple senses contributes to exploring posthumanist and affective geographies of borders specifically, and political geography more broadly. I discuss how outcomes of multisensory research can sit alongside traditional research texts as political studies of the environment in the form of creative research-practices accessible to broader audiences. Through smell, sight, touch, and sound, representational approaches to the border as a knowable, tangible entity becomes refracted into a multitude of nonrepresentational sensory experiences of the border as experience.

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