This essay argues that recent developments at the US/Mexico border, specifically the passing of SB 1070 and HB 2281 in Arizona, have irrevocably altered an already conflicted political and sociocultural landscape, prompting an unprecedented crisis of resistance for which a new model is needed. Drawing from recent, critical discussions on sovereignty and the state of exception in recent political theory, this essay reflects on critical questions of the border in neoliberal times and aims to explore the conditions of sovereignty inhabiting the US/Mexico border. Here I analyze The Devil’s Highway (2004), Luis Alberto Urrea’s documentary narrative account of a failed border-crossing expedition in 2001 that killed fourteen migrants. I read Urrea’s narrative reconstruction of this event, a case that remains the single worst migrant death-event in Arizona border history, as unconcealing the existence of a negative territoriality and community of migrants, without which this border ceases to be. I therefore read Urrea’s narrative as tracing the “bare life” that serves as the border’s originary sphere of indistinction between “legal” statuses (documented/undocumented), territorialities (dweller/itinerant), and statelessnesses (non-Mexican/non-American) that provide the foundation for a new progressive politics at the border that embraces a principle of radical diversity and the assumption of heterogeneity inscribed within it.
Research Article|December 01 2012
Abraham Acosta; Hinging on Exclusion and Exception: Bare Life, the US/Mexico Border, and Los que nunca llegarán. Social Text 1 December 2012; 30 (4 (113)): 103–123. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/01642472-1725811
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