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The author assesses the politics of different humanitarian interventions in the Mexico-US border region developing a unique perspective on the significance of people, places and things to contemporary border struggles.

Inhaltsverzeichnis

Frontmatter

1. The Sonoran Borderzone

This chapter examines how relations of privilege and violence are integral to the formation and maintenance of the US–Mexico border, and considers the significance of humanitarian activism across the Sonoran borderzone. There is a longstanding relationship of asymmetry between Mexico and the US, which is evident in contemporary struggles over migration across the Sonoran desert. Such struggles can have lethal consequences where those travelling without authorisation are ‘funnelled’ through the desert as a remote and dangerous terrain. Squire reflects upon the potentials and limitations of humanitarian activism in this context, considering how humanitarianism emerges both as a mechanism of the power and as an ambiguous form of activism that mediates between contending forces of migration and of control.

Vicki Squire

2. A More-Than-Human Analysis of Humanitarian Border Politics

This chapter intervenes in an emergent debate regarding the significance of humanitarianism to contemporary border politics. Squire defines humanitarian politics as struggles that engage ‘the human’ as a political stake. The chapter highlights the importance of an approach that focuses on such struggles rather than solely upon humanitarian ethics or on humanitarian government. Existing approaches across the related fields of border and migration studies risk evading an interrogation of the category of ‘the human’ by focusing on the problematic of political agency. This leads to a recurring concern regarding agency as that which is ‘given and denied’. By contrast, the chapter develops a more-than-human approach to the analysis of humanitarian politics, which troubles assumptions about what it means to be human but nevertheless remains orientated towards people.

Vicki Squire

3. People, Privilege and Pity

This chapter considers the intertwinement of relations of privilege with a politics pity through examining humanitarian exhibitions of discarded migrant belongings. It distinguishes between interventions that seek to make visible the plight of migrating people and those that render visible the violence of contemporary bordering practices. Squire shows how the former can lead to an engagement with migrants as subjects that pose a danger unto themselves and to others, while also producing knowledge of clandestine migration that can violate the politics of such an act. The chapter thus draws attention to the limitations of a humanitarianism that dwells within loss and assumes innocence, exploring how a universalist ethics of care that invests in a ‘common humanity’ ultimately becomes exclusionary at heart.

Vicki Squire

4. Places, Violence and Response-ability

This chapter explores the significance of the desert to the contemporary politics of mobility, by examining humanitarian water drops across the Sonoran borderzone. Leaving water for migrants in the desert contests biophysical violence, which Squire defines as a form of violence that involves socialphysical forces that act directly on the biological constitution of migrating bodies. However, activists have also been challenged on the grounds of ‘humanitarian littering’ when leaving water for migrants in the desert. This chapter examines several legal cases in order to show how water drops entail a struggle over ‘the human’ as a political stake. It considers water drops as interventions that engage an extended response-ability, and that as such transform the desert into a more human/e place.

Vicki Squire

5. Things, Gifts and Solidarity

This chapter reflects on how ‘humanitarian recycling’ can transform relations among people, across places, through things. As an expression of a gift economy, humanitarian recycling does not simply reinforce inequalities but also creates renewed solidarities. Squire argues that the political significance of humanitarian recycling lies in its generative potential and in the way it connects migrants who have crossed the desert with those who have not. The chapter thus argues that humanitarian recycling is an ambiguous intervention, yet effectively constitutes migration as a ‘social movement’ or collective force. Although far from ideal, humanitarian recycling is thus indicative of the existence of an alternative politics of life across the Sonoran borderzone: a politics of mutually supportive life.

Vicki Squire

6. Post/Humanitarian Border Politics

This chapter highlights the ways in which the Sonoran borderzone involves ‘another politics of life’. This alternative politics potentially transforms the violence of unequal relations that privilege some forms of life over others, by engaging a politics of mutually supportive life. Post/humanitarian border politics is a field of contested action that has ‘the human’ as a political stake, and enacts a fight for people, through things, in terms that can transform places. This is of critical significance under conditions whereby some people are ‘left to die’. Post/humanitarian border politics in this regard affirms life in the face of a lethal politics of life and death. The Sonoran borderzone is in this regard a site of ‘multiple realities’, rather than a singular site of domination.

Vicki Squire

Backmatter

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