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Abolish Borders

Borders have served and continue to serve the aim of protecting private property and whiteness. Borders protect private property to the degree that they enforce the enclosure and expropriation of what ought to be common: land, water, resources, the means of production and subsistence, as well as the ability to collectively determine the future. Borders remain intrinsically connected, then, to the ongoing forms of dispossession and accumulation that characterize racial capitalism. Borders also serve to protect the historical project of whiteness in enforcing whiteness itself as the standard by means of which communities, norms, institutions, and subjectivities are constituted. Read more about how political communities are constructed, who borders protect, how borders transform, multiply, and create labor, and more below.


1. How do we construct political communities, and who gets to belong? What is common in a community, and to whom is it common? What is the relationship between the nation-states, political rights, and borders?

At a very basic level, political communities can be understood as the way we organize our social, economic and political life. In other words, political communities can be defined in terms of the ways in which we make joint decisions about our collective existence. By this, we do not mean ‘politics’ or the more limited understanding of ‘electoral politics’ or political parties. An emancipatory community must reject asymmetrical relations of oppression and exploitation and instead imagine and enact radical configurations of care and mutuality. These radical reconfigurations demand the recognition that what we understand today as ‘common’ has been built through political acts of exclusion. Modern political communities, defined largely in terms of the nation state, have been built on the colonizing/colonialist processes of dispossession and genocide, the violent mechanisms of capture and destruction of the commons. In any case, what remains of ‘the commons’ exists in the dissidence against the current political community in the struggle for what common existence could mean…the commons exists when we go out into the streets and refuse our invisibility, the commons exists as the potentiality to destroy the walls that have privatized the commons.

A community is not a fact. It is not a natural conglomeration of people. While people may understand themselves immediately as part of a community, what is less immediately understood is the historical constitution of these communities. What most of the current political communities in Western capitalist democracies have in common is only the abstract and formalistic determination of legal rights, which today even in their formality do not manage to extend in a real way to those who are supposed to be their subjects. These formal rights are retroactively naturalized to give the real illusion that people exist together in common. In fact, the naturalization of legal rights was established through mechanisms of dispossession, genocide and slavery. Not only this, but let’s think, who can say anything about the way we organize our daily existence? How many people today, wherever they were born, do not even have access to the formal mechanisms of participation that are supposed to be the basis of existing liberal democracies. The obscurity of the mechanisms of participation, and above all the lack of organization in today’s society to provide the resources and time necessary for any form of substantive participation are not unwanted consequences of a supposedly inclusive regime. The history of American citizenship, for example, is a history of exclusion of those who did not have property, those who were property, those who identify themselves as women, etc.

The abstract community of today’s capitalist democracies protects itself from other collective determinations, presenting them as always illegitimate, as a challenge to the community, as immediately foreign, and therefore uses its repressive apparatus to silence those who show the flaws, the breaks, and the limits of what is a system increasingly deprived of any sense of equality. What we must remember and understand is that it is in these very challenges, in people taking to the streets yesterday and all of these weeks, that the possibilities of new ways of determining our collective existence are to be found.

¿Cómo construimos comunidades políticas y a quién pertenece? ¿Qué es común en una comunidad y a quién es común? ¿Cuál es la relación entre los estados-nación, los derechos políticos y las fronteras?

En un nivel muy básico, las comunidades políticas pueden entenderse como la forma de organizar nuestra vida social, económica y política. En otras palabras, las comunidades políticas pueden definirse en términos de las formas en que tomamos decisiones conjuntas sobre nuestra existencia colectiva. Con esto, no queremos decir ‘la política’ o la comprensión más limitada de ‘política electoral’ o partidos políticos. Una comunidad emancipatoria debe rechazar las relaciones asimétricas de opresión y explotación, y en su lugar, imaginar y promulgar configuraciones radicales de cuidado y mutualidad. Estas reconfiguraciones radicales exigen el reconocimiento de que lo que hoy por hoy entendemos como ‘comun’ se ha construido a través de actos políticos de exclusión. Las comunidades políticas modernas, definidas en gran medida en términos del estado-nación, se han construido sobre los procesos colonizadores/colonialistas de desposesión y genocidio, los mecanismos violentos de la captura y destruccion de lo comun. En todo caso, lo que queda de ‘lo común’ existe en la disidencia contra la comunidad política actual en la lucha por lo que la existencia en común podría significar…lo comun existe cuando salimos a la calle y nos negamos a nuestra invisibilizacion, lo comun existe en tanto potencialidad de destruir los muros que han privatizado lo comun. 

Una comunidad no es un hecho. No es un conglomerado natural de personas. Si bien las personas pueden entenderse a sí mismas de inmediato como parte de una comunidad, lo que se comprende menos inmediatamente es la constitución histórica de estas comunidades. Lo que se tiene en común en la mayoría de las comunidades políticas actuales de las democracias capitalistas occidentales es solo la determinación abstracta y formalista de los derechos legales, que hoy por hoy ni siquiera en su formalidad logran extenderse de forma real a abarcar a quienes se supone son sus sujetos. Estos derechos formales se naturalizan retroactivamente para dar la ilusión real de que las personas existen juntas en común. De hecho, la naturalización de los derechos jurídicos se estableció a través de mecanismos de desposesión, genocidio y esclavitud.  No solo esto, pero pensemos, quien puede decir algo sobre la forma en la que organizamos nuestra existencia cotidiana? Cuantos hoy, mas alla de donde hayan nacido no tiene ni siquiera acceso a los mecanismos formales de participacion que se supone son la base de las democraciales liberales existentes. La oscuridad de los mecanismos de participacion, y sobretodo la falta organizacion de la sociedad actual para otorgar los recursos y el tiempo necesario para cualquier forma de participacion substantiva no son consecuencias indeseadas de una regimen supuestamente incluyente. La historia por ejemplo de la ciudadania estaodunidese es una historia de exclusion de aquellos que no tenian propiedad, de aquellos que eran propiedad, de les que se identifican como mujeres, etc.

La comunidad abstracta de las democracias capitalistas actuales se protege otras determinaciones colectivas, presentándolas como siempre ilegítimas, como un desafío para la comunidad, como inmediatamente extranjeras y por eso utiliza su aparato represivo para silenciar aquellos que muestran las fallas, los quiebres y los limites de lo que es un sistema cada vez mas privado de ningun sentido de igualdad. Lo que debemos recordar y entender es que es en  estos mismos  desafios, en la gente saliendo a la calle ayer y todas estas semanas, donde se encuentran las posibilidades de nuevas formas de determinar nuestra existencia colectiva.

2) What does the border of the United States do? Why do we need borders? Who do borders protect? What types of violence do we think borders exercise? 

While in the present physical borders are assumed to be fixed and self-evident, we must remind ourselves of the struggles behind their historical construction. A struggle that required, as previously mentioned, the genocide, dispossession, and compulsory ‘integration’ of those who inhabited these territories before the emergence of United States as such. The United States border, like national borders more broadly, enforces a bounded identity, delimits a space of belonging. Borders have served and continue to serve the aim of protecting private property and whiteness. Borders protect private property to the degree that they enforce the enclosure and expropriation of what ought to be common: land, water, resources, the means of production and subsistence, as well as the ability to collectively determine the future. Borders remain intrinsically connected, then, to the ongoing forms of dispossession and accumulation that characterize racial capitalism. Borders also serve to protect the historical project of whiteness in enforcing whiteness itself as the standard by means of which communities, norms, institutions, and subjectivities are constituted.

We must begin to rethink our understanding of borders so as to see how borders affect the practices of segregation and gentrification that determine the construction of cities and neighborhoods; determine who has or does not have access to healthcare; determine who gets to have a say over how the workplace is organized; determine how we make establish borders between those people who are seen as the proper bearer of rights (white property owners) and those who are abandoned to the violence of the state and capital. We must understand the process of excluding people from communities through criminalization, regardless of their place of birth, as the upholding of borders within the allegedly borderless internal space of the nation-state. Look at prisons, look at the fences, the barbed wire…the institution of the border is present there as much as it is present in El Paso, as much as it is present when political rights are denied to both migrants and ‘felons’. Borders reappear when the United States subjugates and exploits Puerto Rico, but refuses to allow Puerto Ricans self-determination, a say in the organization of their lives. 

And borders reappear again when it is ICE who is called upon to silence and repress protesters in Portland. Borders appear when migrant workers are afraid to go to the grocery store or to seek medical aid out of fear of being detained by ICE. This should not surprise us as it shows the practices of othering and bordering that the state engages in to uphold racial capitalism. 

So, how exactly are borders violent? The violence of borders cannot be limited to the immediate use of force of the U.S. Border patrol or ICE. Borders are violent in marking out certain racialized populations for hyper-exploitation. Borders are violent in denying people access to social services and care. Borders are violent in determining and limiting the mobility of those perceived as a threat to so-called ‘national identity’. But these are just some examples. In order to radically reimagine and bring about a world without borders, we need to begin to recognize borders as part and parcel of the institutions which sustain white supremacy and racism, capitalist exploitation, and heterosexist domination.

¿Qué hace la frontera de los Estados Unidos? ¿Por qué necesitamos fronteras? ¿A quiénes protegen las fronteras? ¿Qué tipos de violencia creemos que ejercen las fronteras?

Si bien en las fronteras físicas actuales se supone que son fijas y evidentes, debemos recordarnos las luchas detrás de su construcción histórica. Una lucha que requirió, como se mencionó anteriormente, el genocidio, el despojo y la “integración” obligatoria de quienes habitaban estos territorios antes del surgimiento de Estados Unidos como tal. La frontera de los Estados Unidos, como las fronteras nacionales en general, impone una identidad limitada, delimita un espacio de pertenencia. Las fronteras han servido y continúan cumpliendo el objetivo de proteger la propiedad privada y la blancura. Las fronteras protegen la propiedad privada en la medida en que imponen el cerramiento y la expropiación de lo que debería ser común: la tierra, el agua, los recursos, los medios de producción y subsistencia, así como la capacidad de determinar colectivamente el futuro.. Las fronteras permanecen intrínsecamente conectadas, entonces, a las formas continuas de despojo y acumulación que caracterizan al capitalismo racial. Las fronteras también sirven para proteger el proyecto histórico de la blancura al hacer cumplir la blancura misma como el estándar por medio del cual se constituyen las comunidades, normas, instituciones y subjetividades.

Debemos comenzar a repensar nuestra comprensión de las fronteras para ver cómo las fronteras afectan las prácticas de segregación y gentrificación que determinan la construcción de ciudades y barrios; determinar quién tiene o no tiene acceso a la atención médica; determinar quién puede opinar sobre cómo está organizado el lugar de trabajo; determine cómo establecemos fronteras entre aquellas personas que son vistas como los titulares de derechos (propietarios blancos) y aquellos que son abandonados a la violencia del estado y del capital. Debemos entender el proceso de exclusión de las personas de las comunidades a través de la criminalización, independientemente de su lugar de nacimiento, como la defensa de las fronteras dentro del espacio interno supuestamente sin fronteras del estado-nación. Mire las prisiones, mire las cercas, el alambre de púas … la institución de la frontera está presente allí tanto como en El Paso, tanto como está presente cuando se niegan los derechos políticos tanto a los migrantes como a los ‘delincuentes’. Las fronteras reaparecen cuando los Estados Unidos subyugan y explotan a Puerto Rico, pero se niega a permitir la autodeterminación de los puertorriqueños, una voz en la organización de sus vidas.

Y las fronteras reaparecen nuevamente cuando es ICE quien debe silenciar y reprimir a los manifestantes en Portland. Las fronteras aparecen cuando los trabajadores migrantes tienen miedo de ir al supermercado o buscar ayuda médica por temor a ser detenidos por ICE. Esto no debería sorprendernos, ya que muestra las prácticas de alteridad y de erigir fronteras a las que el estado se dedica para sostener el capitalismo racial.

Entonces, ¿cómo exactamente son violentas las fronteras? La violencia de las fronteras no puede limitarse al uso inmediato de la fuerza de la patrulla fronteriza de EE. UU. o ICE. Las fronteras son violentas al marcar ciertas poblaciones racializadas para la hiperexplotación. Las fronteras son violentas al negar a las personas el acceso a los servicios sociales y la atención. Las fronteras son violentas para determinar y limitar la movilidad de aquellos percibidos como una amenaza a la llamada “identidad nacional”. Pero estos son solo algunos ejemplos. Para reinventar radicalmente y crear un mundo sin fronteras, debemos comenzar a reconocer las fronteras como parte integrante de las instituciones que sostienen la supremacía blanca y el racismo, la explotación capitalista y la dominación heterosexista.

3) How do borders construct subjects? What is the relationship between borders and processes of racialization? How do borders reaffirm heteropatriarchy/heteronormativity? How do borders transform, multiply, and create labor?

It must be stressed that the spaces borders delimit are not only territorial or geographical. For borders must be understood in their polysemic form, which is to say that borders are experiential. Think, for example, of how different the experience of border crossing is depending on where you were born and which passport you carry? While for some it might just look like a formal checkpoint on their way to an international adventure, for others, the border is a place of permanent residence. They have no choice but to travel with borders, even when they are not in direct proximity to those geographical boundaries we understand as borders. In this sense, borders need to be understood with respect to how they are lived differently by people. The violence of borders happens continuously, not only in its more known and direct forms as exercised by the coercive apparatuses of the state, but also in the everyday experiences of those who carry borders with them. To say that people carry borders with them means that the forms of violence and exclusion produced by borders affect the way in which they live their everyday life. Borders are instituted within political space and within communities, creating subjects and shaping their relations to one another. 

At the same time, the border produces a variety of subservient and devalued workers that become the best expression of ‘labor power’ when they are counted only as such, deprived of most of the rights given to those included in the community of the ‘nation-state’. Borders discipline not only migrant workers but all workers when they fracture workplaces on gendered, racial, ethnic, and national lines. Borders create an environment of fear and retaliation for all. Borders justify the dehumanization of those who migrate, the erasure of their stories, their criminalization, their oppression, their subjection. 

Furthermore, borders uphold heteronormative institutions when migrants’ ability to claim legitimacy or residency is based on proving one’s ability to fit into these institutions. Thus, when migrants flee their places of birth because their bodily integrity is at risk as a result of their sexual orientation or gender identity, these are not recognized as valid reasons to be granted ‘legal’ entry. Or consider, for instance, when marriage becomes a path towards access to rights. Or when traditional family values are mobilized to humanize some migrants and to exclude others. In this sense, while the practice of purposefully separating children from their parents at the border must be firmly rejected, we need to be careful not to fall prey of upholding an institution like family as a form of defending people’s freedom of movement and right to be protected from police and state violence. And let’s not forget that discourses that control migrants’ bodily autonomy appear repeatedly––for example, in the form of declarations over migrants’ reproductive rights and a state which has not shied away from violently intervening with policies such as mandatory sterilization. 

To conclude, the project of abolishing borders demands that we take borders not just as geographical facts, but as geopolitical realities that affect human beings at the level of everyday life through exclusion, direct and indirect violence, social marginalization, and the social production of vulnerability. 

3) ¿Cómo construyen las fronteras a los sujetos? ¿Cuál es la relación entre fronteras y procesos de racialización? ¿Cómo reafirman las fronteras la heteropatriarquía / heteronormatividad? ¿Cómo transforman, multiplican y crean mano de obra las fronteras?

Cabe destacar que los espacios delimitados por las fronteras no son sólo territoriales o geográficos. Las fronteras deben entenderse en su forma polisémica, lo cual significa que las fronteras son experienciales. Piense, por ejemplo, en cuán diferente es la experiencia de cruzar la frontera dependiendo de dónde nació y qué pasaporte lleva. Mientras que para algunos puede parecer un punto de control formal en su camino hacia una aventura internacional, para otros la frontera es un lugar de residencia permanente. No tienen más remedio que viajar con fronteras, incluso cuando no están cerca de esos límites geográficos que entendemos como fronteras. En este sentido, las fronteras deben entenderse con respecto a cómo las personas las viven de manera diferente. La violencia de las fronteras ocurre continuamente, no solo en sus formas más conocidas y directas que ejercen los aparatos coercitivos del estado, sino también en las experiencias cotidianas de quienes llevan fronteras con ellos. Decir que las personas llevan fronteras con ellas significa que las formas de violencia y exclusión producidas por las fronteras afectan la forma en que viven su vida cotidiana. Las fronteras se instituyen dentro del espacio político y dentro de las comunidades, creando sujetos y configurando sus relaciones mutuas.

Al mismo tiempo, la frontera produce una variedad de trabajadores subordinados y devaluados que se convierten en la mejor expresión de ‘fuerza de trabajo’ cuando se cuentan sólo como tales, privados de la mayoría de los derechos otorgados a los incluidos en la comunidad del ‘estado-nación’. Las fronteras disciplinan no solo a los trabajadores migrantes sino a todos los trabajadores cuando fracturan los lugares de trabajo en líneas de género, raciales, étnicas y nacionales. Las fronteras crean un ambiente de miedo y represalias para todos. Las fronteras justifican la deshumanización de quienes migran, el borrado de sus historias, su criminalización, su opresión, su sujeción.

Además, las fronteras defienden las instituciones heteronormativas cuando la capacidad de los migrantes de reclamar legitimidad o residencia se basa en demostrar la capacidad de uno para encajar en estas instituciones. Por lo tanto, cuando los migrantes huyen de sus lugares de nacimiento porque su integridad corporal está en riesgo como resultado de su orientación sexual o identidad de género, estos no se reconocen como razones válidas para obtener la entrada “legal”. O considere, por ejemplo, cuando el matrimonio se convierte en un camino hacia el acceso a los derechos. O cuando los valores familiares tradicionales se movilizan para humanizar a algunos migrantes y excluir a otros. En este sentido, aunque la práctica de separar a propósito a los niños de sus padres en la frontera debe ser rechazada firmemente, debemos tener cuidado de no caer en la trampa de defender una institución como la familia como una forma de defender la libertad de movimiento y el derecho a ser protegido de la policía y la violencia estatal. Y no olvidemos que los discursos que controlan la autonomía corporal de los migrantes aparecen repetidamente––por ejemplo, en forma de declaraciones sobre los derechos reproductivos de los migrantes y un estado que no ha evitado intervenir violentamente con políticas como la esterilización obligatoria.

Para concluir, el proyecto de abolir las fronteras exige que tomemos las fronteras no solo como hechos geográficos, sino como realidades geopolíticas que afectan a los seres humanos a nivel de la vida cotidiana a través de la exclusión, la violencia directa e indirecta, la marginación social y la producción social de vulnerabilidad.


Migrants and collective organizing

1. The willingness of privileged workers to accept inferior conditions for others—whether the criteria are gender, race, ethnicity, nationality, legal status, origins, or vulnerability—has been and remains a crucial stabilizing factor for the liberal–capitalist order.

Schierup, Carl-Ulrik, Ronaldo Munck, Branka Likić Brborić, and Anders Neergaard, eds. 2015. Migration, Precarity, and Global Governance: Challenges and Opportunities for Labour: First edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press, p.50

Changes in the state repressive apparatus

2. US border enforcement has been primarily about the production of whiteness and economic inequality. The border has never been truly closed to poor immigrants. They have been allowed in, with tight regulation, or officially denied entry but in practice allowed to enter in large numbers, with few legal protections from employer exploitation and abuse. Each of these systems places immigrants in a degraded economic position where their rights to organize are denied and they are forced to work in substandard conditions for low wages (…) Border policing has always been highly racialized. Foreigners to be kept out or allowed in only under degraded circumstances are always defined as outside the American mainstream, and this is generally accomplished by appeals to race.

– Anderson, Bridget, Nandita Sharma, and Cynthia Wright. 2009. Editorial: “Why No Borders?” Refuge: Canada’s Journal on Refugees, 26 (2): 5-18, p.9

3. Heightened policing of migrant workers has created a crimmigration system. Evermore repressive state controls over immigration and migrant labor ensures that this immense pool of labor-power remains insecure, disorganized, disciplined, and docile. Surveillance and criminalization result in a perpetual condition of deportability – a condition of profound vulnerability. The undocumented immigrant workers are thus rendered ‘disposable’ a ‘permanent labor force of the temporarily employed’ ever available for extreme exploitation and thus hyper-precarious. Vulnerability and existential precariousness of this huge pool of labor serves functions to facilitate global accumulation of capital (…) Anti-immigrant policies and accompanying nativist, often racist, ideologies help keep the attention of relatively privileged sections of the working classes away from the crisis of global capitalism. Converting undocumented immigrant workers into scapegoats for the crisis undermines unity and coalition-building among the working classes. Hyper-precarity of the undocumented immigrant labor thus helps elide general precarity.

– Mahmud, Tayyab. 2014. “Precarious Existence and Capitalism: A Permanent State of Exception.” Sw. L. Rev. 44: 699, p.723

Nationalism/nation state/settler colonialism/racialization processes/citizenship building 

4. [I]ndigenous dispossession is not a fixed and finite past event but a continuing and continuously augmented and enhanced set of practices that shape contemporary concepts of law, learning, and land use. From the start, European settlers in North America established structures encouraging a possessive investment in whiteness. The colonial and early national legal systems authorized attacks on Native Americans and encouraged the appropriation of their lands. They protected racialized chattel slavery, limited naturalized citizenship to “white” males, excluded immigrants from Asia as expressly unwelcome (through legislation aimed at China in 1882, India in 1917, Japan in 1924, and the Philippines in 1934), and provided pretexts, rationales, and procedures for restricting the citizenship, exploiting the labor, and seizing the property of Asian Americans, Mexican Americans, Native Americans, and African Americans.

– Lipsitz, George. 2006. The Possessive Investment in Whiteness: How White People Profit from Identity Politics. Revised and Expanded edition. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, p.2

Importance of understanding queerness/masculinity/gender dynamics in migration 

5. It is not only “hard workers” who are produced at the border. “Good wives” who do not challenge patriarchal families, “straight guys and gals” who adhere to correct sexual scripts, “good parents” whose parenting accords with the requirements to produce “good children” are policed through immigration requirements. Such requirements rest on ideological, even fantastical, representations of the “nation” that states nominally “represent .”

– Anderson, Bridget, Nandita Sharma, and Cynthia Wright. 2009. Editorial: “Why No Borders?” Refuge: Canada’s Journal on Refugees 26 (2): 5-18, p.7

Departing Quote

“A radical No Borders politics acknowledges that it is part of revolutionary change. If successful, it will have a very profound effect on all of our lives for it is part of a global reshaping of economies and societies in a way that is not compatible with capitalism, nationalism, or the mode of state-controlled belonging that is citizenship. It is ambitious and requires exciting and imaginative explorations, but it is not utopian. It is in fact eminently practical and is being carried out daily (…) This raises the question of what sorts of political communities are desirable, and we would suggest that one way of framing our responses to this could be by considering the struggles for the commons. The No Borders demand for the right to move/stay is not framed within a liberal (capitalist) praxis as are the rights of states, citizens, private property owners, or even the ambigious and largely symbolic arena of human rights. Instead, the right to move and to stay are understood as a necesary part of a contemporary system of common rights. Thus, while focused on realizing their demand for freedom of movement (which includes the freedom not to be moved), a No Borders politics can be seen as part of a broader, reinvigorated struggle for the commons.

– Anderson, Bridget, Nandita Sharma, and Cynthia Wright. 2009. Editorial: “Why No Borders?” Refuge: Canada’s Journal on Refugees 26 (2): 5-18, p.10 acl_abolish_borders_quotesDownload


Books to get started:

Glenn, Evelyn Nakano. 2002. Unequal Freedom: How Race and Gender Shaped American Citizenship and Labor. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.

Golash-Boza, Tanya Maria. 2015. Deported: Immigrant Policing, Disposable Labor, and Global Capitalism. New York: New York University Press. 

Haney-López, Ian. 2006. White by Law: The Legal Construction of Race. Rev. and updated, 10th anniversary ed. New York: New York University Press.

Castles, S. 2010. “Understanding Global Migration: A Social Transformation Perspective.” Journal Of Ethnic And Migration Studies 36(10):1565–1586.

Mezzadra, Sandro and Brett Neilson. 2013. Border as Method, or, the Multiplication of Labor. Durham: Duke University Press.

Mahmud, Tayyab. 2014. “Precarious Existence and Capitalism: A Permanent State of Exception.” Sw. L. Rev. 44:699. A discussion against liberal notions of precarity that center capitalism and specifically discuss migrant workers 

Roediger, David R. 2007. The Wages of Whiteness: Race and the Making of the American Working Class. Rev. and new ed. London ; New York: Verso.

De Genova, Nicholas. 2004. “The Legal Production of Mexican/Migrant ‘Illegality.’” Latino Studies 2(2):160–185. 1/De Genova, Nicholas and Nathalie Mae Peutz. 2010. The Deportation Regime: Sovereignty, Space, and the Freedom of Movement. Durham, NC: Duke University Press 

Hernandez, Kelly Lytle. 2010. Migra!: A History of the U.S. Border Patrol. Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press. 

Menjívar, Cecilia and Dan Kanstroom. 2014. Constructing Immigrant “Illegality”: Critiques, Experiences, and Responses. New York: Cambridge University Press. 

Almaguer, Tomás. 1994. Racial Fault Lines: The Historical Origins of White Supremacy in California. Berkeley: University of California Press. 

Molina, Natalia. 2014. How Race Is Made in America: Immigration, Citizenship, and the Historical Power of Racial Scripts. Berkeley: University of California Press. 

Articles focusing on labor:

Lebaron, G. 2015. “Unfree Labour Beyond Binaries INSECURITY, SOCIAL HIERARCHY AND LABOUR MARKET RESTRUCTURING.” International Feminist Journal Of Politics 17(1):1–19.

Sassen, Saskia. 1988. The Mobility of Labor and Capital: A Study in International Investment and Labor Flow. Cambridge [England] ; New York: Cambridge University Press.

Schierup, Carl-Ulrik, Ronaldo Munck, Branka Likić Brborić, and Anders Neergaard, eds. 2015. Migration, Precarity, and Global Governance: Challenges and Opportunities for Labour. First edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 

Roediger, David R. 2017. Class, Race, and Marxism. London ; Brooklyn, NY: Verso.

Anderson, Bridget. 2010. “Migration, Immigration Controls and the Fashioning of Precarious Workers.” Work, Employment and Society 24(2):300–317.

Mize, Ronald L. 2008. “Interrogating Race, Class, Gender and Capitalism Along the US-Mexico Border: Neoliberal Nativism and Maquila Modes of Production.” Race, Gender & Class 134–155.

Bonacich, Edna, Sabrina Alimahomed, and Jake B. Wilson. 2008. “The Racialization of Global Labor.” American Behavioral Scientist 52(3):342–55.

Bonacich, Edna. 2003. “Pulling the Plug: Labor and the Global Supply Chain.” Pp. 41–48 in New Labor Forum. Vol. 12. JSTOR.

Champlin, Dell and Eric Hake. 2006. “Immigration as Industrial Strategy in American Meatpacking.” Review of Political Economy 18(1):49–70.

Dale, Gareth and Mike Cole. 1999. “The European Union and Migrant Labour.” Oxford ; New York: Berg.

Lewis, H., P. Dwyer, S. Hodkinson, and L. Waite. 2015. “Hyper-Precarious Lives: Migrants, Work and Forced Labour in the Global North.” Progress in Human Geography 39(5):580–600.

Workplace ethnographies:

​​​​​​​Ribas, Vanesa. 2016. On the Line: Slaughterhouse Lives and the Making of the New South. First edition. Oakland, California: University of California Press.

Stuesse, Angela. 2016. Scratching out a Living: Latinos, Race, and Work in the Deep South. Oakland, California: University of California Press.

Holmes, Seth M. 2013. Fresh Fruit, Broken Bodies: Migrant Farmworkers in the United States. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Horton, Sarah Bronwen. 2016. They Leave Their Kidneys in the Fields: Illness, Injury, and Illegality among U.S. Farmworkers. Oakland, California: University of California Press.

Ruíz, Vicki. 1987. Cannery Women, Cannery Lives: Mexican Women, Unionization, and the California Food Processing Industry, 1930-1950. 1st ed. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press.

Labor organizing:

Chun, Jennifer. 2008. “The Limits of Labor Exclusion: Redefining the Politics of Split Labor Markets under Globalization.” Critical Sociology 34(3):433–52.

Silver, Beverly J. 2003. Forces of Labor: Workers’ Movements and Globalization Since 1870. Cambridge University Press. 


Pulido, Laura. 2017. “Geographies of Race and Ethnicity III: Settler Colonialism and Nonnative People of Color.” Progress in Human Geography 030913251668601.

Roediger, David R. 2005. Working toward Whiteness: How America’s Immigrants Became White: The Strange Journey from Ellis Island to the Suburbs. New York: Basic Books. 

Du Bois, W. E. B. William Edward Burghardt. 2007. Black Reconstruction in America: An Essay toward a History of the Part Which Black Folk Played in the Attempt to Reconstruct Democracy in America, 1860-1880. New York: Oxford University Press.

Migration / citizenship / the nation-state:

Aas, Katja Franco and Mary Bosworth. 2013. The Borders of Punishment: Migration, Citizenship, and Social Exclusion. First edition. Oxford, United Kingdom : Oxford University Press.–> Edited volume that discusses the criminalization of mobility

Balibar, Etienne. 2010. “At the Borders of Citizenship: A Democracy in Translation?” European Journal of Social Theory 13(3):315–22.

Abreu, Alexandre. 2012. “The New Economics of Labor Migration: Beware of Neoclassicals Bearing Gifts.” Forum for Social Economics 41(1):46–67 

Castles, Stephen. 2007. “Twenty-First-Century Migration as a Challenge to Sociology.” Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 33(3):351–371. 

Mezzadra, Sandro. 2012. “Capitalismo, Migraciones y Luchas Sociales: La Mirada de La Autonomía.” Nueva Sociedad (237):159–178. 

Mohanty, Chandra Talpade. 2003. Feminism without Borders: Decolonizing Theory, Practicing Solidarity. Durham ; London: Duke University Press.

Bloemraad, Irene and Alicia Sheares. 2017. “Understanding Membership in a World of Global Migration: (How) Does Citizenship Matter?” International Migration Review 51(4):823–67. 5.

Correa, Jennifer G. and James M. Thomas. 2015. “The Rebirth of the U.S.-Mexico Border: Latina/o Enforcement Agents and the Changing Politics of Racial Power.” Sociology of Race and Ethnicity 1(2):239–254.

Coutin, Susan Bibler. 2011. “The Rights of Noncitizens in the United States.” Annual Review of Law and Social Science 7(1):289–308. 

Glenn, Evelyn Nakano. 2011. “Constructing Citizenship: Exclusion, Subordination, and Resistance.” American Sociological Review 76(1):1–24. 

Goldring, Luin and Patricia Landolt, eds. 2013. Producing and Negotiating Non-Citizenship: Precarious Legal Status in Canada. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

Gordon, J. and Ra Lenhardt. 2008. “Rethinking Work and Citizenship.” Ucla Law Review 55(5):1161–1238. 10/20/18

Massey, Douglas S., Jorge Durand, and Karen A. Pren. 2014. “Explaining Undocumented Migration to the U.S.” International Migration Review 48(4):1028–61. 

Massey, Douglas S., Jorge Durand, and Karen A. Pren. 2016. “Why Border Enforcement Backfired.” American Journal of Sociology 121(5):1557–1600. 

Mezzadra, Sandro and Brett Neilson. 2012. “Between Inclusion and Exclusion: On the Topology of Global Space and Borders.” Theory, Culture & Society 29(4–5):58–75.

Rodriguez, Nestor. 1996. “The Battle for the Border: Notes on Autonomous Migration, Transnational Communities, and the State.” Social Justice 23:21–37. 

Trujillo-Pagan, Nicole. 2014. “Emphasizing the ‘Complex’ in the ‘Immigration Industrial Complex.’” Critical Sociology 40(1):29–46.


Montgomery, David. 1993. Citizen Worker: The Experience of Workers in the United States with Democracy and the Free Market during the Nineteenth Century. Cambridge [England] ; New York, NY, USA: Cambridge University Press.

Peck, Gunther. 2000. Reinventing Free Labor: Padrones and Immigrant Workers in the North American West, 1880-1930. Cambridge ; New York: Cambridge University Press.

Steinfeld, Robert J. 1991. The Invention of Free Labor – The Employment Relation in English and American Law and Culture, 1350-1870. The University of North Carolina Press.

Tomich, Dale W. 2004. Through the Prism of Slavery: Labor, Capital, and World Economy. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield.

Dunbar-Ortiz, Roxanne. 2015. An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States. Boston: Beacon Press.

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