Border Walls:Traveling Technologies and Speculative Futures
Miriam Ticktin
Dead bird in the bars of the U.S. Mexico border wall.
Photograph: Anonymous. Provided by Dan Millis, Sierra Club.

“Border Walls: Traveling Technologies and Speculative Futures,” explores the remarkable resurgence of border walls in the current era of nationalist populisms, as tools for anti-immigrant politics. My focus is on the material dimensions — the actual bricks and mortar — of border walls, including the US-Mexico wall, the border walls between Spain-Morocco (at Ceuta and Melilla) and the wall at Calais in France (to stop migrants from crossing to the UK).

By looking at multiple contexts, I am able to see whether technologies are shared transnationally, and how they might be shaped by other histories. My research suggests that paradoxically, while walls are the symbol of closed, fortress-like nation-states, they are ultimately dependent on both transnational and cross-species technologies, ideas and economies; that is, border wall technologies cross national borders, but they also draw on strategies of containment used for nonhumans.

While the goal is to understand these political formations, the project will also attempt to think beyond these, moving into the realm of the imaginative and speculative. I am interested in thinking beyond the nation-state as a container that either keeps people in or out, and that serves as the primary site of either political belonging or exclusion. How might we re-imagine borders?