The corral apparatus: counterinsurgency and the architecture of death and deterrence along the Mexico/United States border
AffiliationSchool of Geography, Development & Environment, The University of Arizona
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CitationBoyce, G. A., & Chambers, S. N. (2021). The corral apparatus: counterinsurgency and the architecture of death and deterrence along the Mexico/United States border. Geoforum, 120, 1-13.
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AbstractIn public statements and archival documents U.S. officials have repeatedly made explicit their intention that the deployment of tactical infrastructure along the Mexico/United States border will contribute to the “funneling” of unauthorized migration toward increasingly remote and difficult routes of travel. By amplifying the suffering, risk and uncertainty to which migrants are exposed, it is intended that others in the future will be deterred from considering a similar journey. In this paper, we use the phrase “corral apparatus” to name how heterogeneous elements like walls, checkpoints and surveillance towers combine to form a common architecture of deterrence. We then undertake geospatial modeling of the relationship between this apparatus and the spatiotemporal distribution of human mortality across two major unauthorized migration corridors in southern Arizona. Our analysis identifies a meaningful relationship between the location of these infrastructures and patterns of mortality observed over time. Yet it bears emphasis that the United States government's ultimate objective is not to kill people, but to manipulate their behavior. To reflect on this point, we explore the relationship between deterrence theory and counterinsurgency as a particular framework of governance, one that emphasizes the targeting of coercive action against a population in order to immobilize an adversary. We discuss how an elaboration on this framework provides clear analytic purchase for understanding connections between those infrastructures of deterrence deployed in remote desert areas and a number of more recent carceral practices and enforcement initiatives undertaken by the United States along its border with Mexico. © 2021 Elsevier Ltd
Note24 month embargo; published online 23 January 2021
VersionFinal accepted manuscript