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Centre of Migration Research

Agnieszka Radziwinowiczówna. 2016.

The Materiality of the State of Exception: Components of the Experience of Deportation from the United States


Journal of Contemporary Archaeology 3/2


With the increasingly strict immigration controls worldwide, it is important to understand its human costs. This article analyzes the material components of the experience of Mexicans deported from the United States of America and the role they play in the subordination of the “deportable” people. It presents former deportees’ narratives about: the matériel used by the US Border Patrol (helicopters, sensors); medical equipment, identifiers and uniforms used in the immigration detention centers; vehicles that transport deportees and weapons used by the Justice Prisoner & Alien Transportation System marshals. They serve to: detect, criminalize, frighten, and dehumanize deportees, as well as rationalize their detention and confinement. The author argues that the use of those artifacts reduces the deported people to what Giorgio Agamben calls bare life (i.e., biological life deprived of sociopolitical value). Deportation is Agambenian state of exception–a process of incorporating bare life into the calculations of state power.

Keywords: deportation, power, Mexico, undocumented migration, biopower, state of exception, bare life

Project: Living/Leaving the deportation regime: Power and Violence in deportation from the United States i podlinkowanie do mojej strony internetowej