BORDER & RULE by Harsha Walia

Border & Rule analyzes global borders as sites of oppression. Harsha Walia is arguing for no borders at all. She begins with the US/Mexico border but then branches out to places like Palestine/Israel and Kashmir/India. That’s helps to show how the US isn’t the only one doing it nor is the US doing it the worst. Rather, the US borrows and models styles of exploitation just like many other regimes. There are seventy border walls around the world, all of which are monitored in a way that determines personhood.

And it’s not just for fun that people would dehumanize migrants. It’s a money-maker. People create and maintain capital because of the policing of borders and citizenship. That’s what makes certain labor cheap or free or framed as in competition with citizens. Walia calls this process race-making. It creates social hierarchies on purpose. It then forces migrant workers, whether they are on a program or not, to comply via threat of deportation. People are specifically “deportable subjects, who are not actually deported if they remain compliant laborers.”

The border being moveable, malleable, and mobile is an important feature. That it’s not just the physical border that gets crossed because the border can be enforced anywhere anytime. It can also physically reshaped. The US/Mexico border wasn’t always right there. That section of land was stolen. This whole country was stolen. None of the borders around the world delineating countries or towns are actually there. Border enforcement is thus an active agent of colonialism/imperialism. It violently denies responsibility for whatever bad stuff they’re involved in beyond that border (coups, policies, wars, pollution). It’s ironic and ugly and doesn’t have to be this way.

Best line:

Borders are not fixed lines or passive objects simply demarcating territory; borders are productive regimes both generated by and reproducing racialized social relations, further imbued by gender, sexuality, class, ability, and nationality.

Harsha Walia

-Rachel Wagner


My books: 
– Jacob’s Hip: Poems
– FEM: New Millennium Beauty & Fashion
– Abandonment Issues: Alive in New Jersey
– Back Like I Never Left: Dating as a Single Mother

My bookstore: Ten Dollar Books

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