Central American Migrant Caravans as the New Heterotopic Ships of Fools

Authors: Roy Guzman*, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities
Topics: Latin America, Queer and Trans Geographies, Immigration/Transnationalism
Keywords: migrant caravans, refugees, Central America, Ship of Fools, heterotopias, LGBT
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/10/2021
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:20 PM
Room: Virtual 30
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Since 2017, the migrant caravans from the Northern Triangle of Central America (Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras) have demonstrated how sovereign power (Agamben) in the region has multiplied borders, refugees, and technologies programmed to chase, expel, attack, and annihilate human life. Targets of local, state, and neoliberal violence, Central American refugees have destabilized the category of economic migrant and reconfigured it as a phenomenon closer to refugee. Broadly speaking, this paper seeks to locate these caravans as spatiotemporalities that raise newer critiques against the nation state, but more specifically, it seeks to zero in on LGBT caravan members in order to show how desire, the body, gender, the imagination, and liberation (Dussel) are distinctly theorized and put into practice. To this end, I engage with, both, how Foucault recuperates the allegory of the Ship of Fools (the Stultifera Navis, the Narrenschiff) and how he conceptualizes heterotopias as “counter-sites” that exist outside and within reality. Regarding the former, I analogize the Central American migrant caravans to the Ship of Fools to ask the following: What modes of survival do LGBT subjects devise within these caravans? How do these caravans redefine mobility, transit, evasion, resistance, and deportation? What spatiotemporal crises do these caravans illuminate? Regarding the latter, I analyze the Central American caravan as a heterotopia that demonstrates how the LGBT Central American refugee shows the limits of sovereign power and hints at possible forms of liberation within the region.

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