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Geography Colloquium Series

UK Athletics Association Auditorium, William T. Library
Speaker(s) / Presenter(s):
Dr. Melissa Webb Wright, Penn State University

"Necropolitics, Border Walls, and a Murder of Jim/Juan Crow in the Mexico-US Frontera"

Across the Mexico-US borderlands, overlapping white supremacist and Anglo-nationalist movements are building private walls as monuments to Donald Trump. Many social justice activists and ecological stewards have warned that these Trumpist border walls present specific and new threats to social and ecological landscapes, particularly along the riparian sections of the borderlands. To slow their building and, even, topple these walls, many activists and ecological caretakers are working to fortify networks with similar efforts elsewhere. In an effort to provide analyses useful to such justice endeavors, I employ Achille Mbembe’s concept of necropolitics to situate the borderland activist struggles against the Trumpist walls within a broader context of struggle against the commemoration of racist terror in the US South. Specifically, I use Mbembe’s theorization of necropolitical deathworlds to illustrate some potential common cause linking protests against Trumpist walls in the Paso del Norte region of the Mexico-US border with a Black Lives Matter/Say Her Name coalition that is bringing down Confederate monuments in central Texas. In placing these movements in connection with each other, I highlight a synergy of the white supremacy of Jim Crow with the Anglo nationalism behind a Juan Crow variant of racist terror and anti-immigrant hatred driving the Trumpist wall constructions. Recognition of this convergence is one way, I maintain, for identifying opportunities for making common cause across Americas’ myriad struggles to destroy the racist monuments that glorify the necropolitical legacy of racist colonialism and its ongoing social and ecological devastation.

Dr. Melissa Wright, Penn State University

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