Drawing the Line: Spatial Strategies of Community and Resistance in Post-SB1070 Arizona
In North America, and globally, the topics of immigration and immigration policy have become among the most divisive fault lines of political struggle and debate. In this paper, we reflect upon the State of Arizona’s embrace of the “Attrition Through Enforcement” (ATE) doctrine as exemplary of contemporary U.S. anti-immigrant policies that target the social reproduction of non-citizens. Reflecting on ATE and movements against it, we argue for the inadequacy of scholarly and activist approaches that would normatively deploy frameworks of “citizenship” or demands for “no borders” to articulate the stakes and composition of contemporary immigration struggles. Borrowing from political scientist Joel Olson and his concept of “democratic Manichaeism,” we argue instead the imperative to radically confront and unsettle the normative divisions between citizen and non-citizen that anti-immigrant actors and policies would police. Through two case studies in Tucson, Arizona, we examine the possibilities and challenges related to mobilizing such a Manichaean framework through the quotidian spaces of everyday life. We conclude by proposing “community composition” as both a political agenda and a methodological framework through which to attend to everyday geographies of belonging and exclusion while confronting the normative political categories that structure the nation-state and justify its violence.
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