Maria A. P. Woolson

Borders and Public Imagination

Transforming the Border, Transforming the Migrant. Biometrics and the Ubiquitous Borderization of a Public’s Imagination.

The US-Mexican Border exists in time and space, but has been continually negotiated and recreated through the imagery of cultural, political and rhetorical constructions. The spatial dimension of this border has materially expanded through the implementation of checkpoints and other surveillance strategies. At a more subjective level, its post September 11 re-creation extends as an abstraction into the virtual dimension, where the border is perceived to be more immediate to the entire nation and secure at all times. US frontiers are transforming from geopolitical boundaries to virtual proliferating biometric borders of promised invulnerability under zero-risk management approach.
I explore the impact of this reconceptualization on citizenship and diversity, which combined with a centralized State power obfuscate the border region as “place” that is home to millions of people. I argue that increased securitization continues to support market led interests, while failing to address the border problems it promises to resolve. In examining the theorizing of bodies as a political materialization of security under narratives of ubiquity of risk I see how the potential violence of this approach, including the embodiment of invasive practices supported by language of undisputed power, reinforce preexisting symbolic asymmetries rather than create opportunities for strengthening trans-boundary cooperation.

Keywords: Biometric Border, Biopolitics, US-Mexico border, Migrant, Security & Discipline,
There is nothing natural about the transnational zone, and (…) it may even be that there is nothing real about it either.
         Ursula Biemann, 2001
Under Review with ​The Journal of Borderland Studies