Bodies on the Line: Violence, Disposable Subjects, and the US-Mexico Border Industrial Complex
Perez, Cristina Jo
Rowley, Michelle V
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Bodies On the Line: Violence, Disposable Subjects, and the Border Industrial Complex explores the construction of identity and notions of belonging within an increasingly privatized and militarized Border Industrial Complex. Specifically, the project interrogates how discourses of Mexican migrants as racialized, gendered, and hypersexualized “deviants” normalize violence against border crossers. Starting at Juárez/El Paso border, I follow the expanding border, interrogating the ways that Mexican migrants, regardless of sexual orientation, have been constructed and disciplined according to racialized notions of “sexual deviance." I engage a queer of color critique to argue that sexual deviance becomes a justification for targeting and containing migrant subjects. By focusing on the economic and racially motivated violence that the Border Industrial Complex does to Mexican migrant communities, I expand the critiques that feminists of color have long leveraged against systemic violence done to communities of color through the prison industrial system. Importantly, this project contributes to transnational feminist scholarship by contextualizing border violence within the global circuits of labor, capital, and ideology that shape perceptions of border insecurity. The project contributes an interdisciplinary perspective that uses a multi-method approach to understand how border violence is exercised against Mexicans at the Mexico-US border. I use archival methods to ask how historical records housed at the National Border Patrol Museum and Memorial Library serve as political instruments that reinforce the contemporary use of violence against Mexican migrants. I also use semi-structured interviews with nine frequent border crossers to consider the various ways crossers defined and aligned themselves at the border. Finally, I analyze the master narratives that come to surround specific cases of border violence. To that end, I consider the mainstream media’s coverage, legal proceedings, and policy to better understand the racialized, gendered, and sexualized logics of the violence.