More than a Line : Borders as Embodied States

Whitley, Leila Marie. 2015. More than a Line : Borders as Embodied States. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

This thesis examines what borders do and how and where they are experienced. In
particular, I am interested in how bodies come to be mobilized as sites of borders and
border policing. The goal of this thesis is to contribute to a theory of the border that
accounts for the ways bodies are regulated by borders, not only at the sites nominally
recognized as "border," but throughout and beyond national space. How do borders
become a means of regulating bodies and of structuring social relationships?

The thesis departs from the US-Mexico border, beginning with a historically
grounded consideration of how this border has situated migrants moving from
Mexico into the United States and how it has racialised and legislated belonging. To
do this, I draw on materials within border studies that address this particular border,
as well as chicano studies materials and analysis of racialisation in the US context.
This moves into a broader discussion of the functions of borders, engaging with
debates taking place within critical border studies and drawing on critical theory,
race and postcolonial theory to articulate a theoretical treatment of the border that
challenges the idea that a border can be limited to a single, specific geographic space.
Two case studies further extend this argument. The first analyses a US racial
profiling law, Arizona’s SB1070, through a reading of the text of this document,
responses to it, and the history of US immigration policy. The second examines
human rights reports, one representing the US-Mexico border and the other the
Mediterranean border space of Europe. Through analysis of the documents I look at
the particular construction of the figure of the migrant.

I argue that instead of being site-limited, borders are enacted in relation to
embodiment. This means borders have to be thought of both in relation to their
enactment and to the bodies they police and control. The project challenges
universalising accounts of borders and attends to the ways that borders differentially
address different bodies, so that some bodies move freely both within and beyond
national space, while the movement of others is restricted.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):

Additional Information:

This is a redacted version of the thesis.


Migration, borders, US-Mexico border, bordering, racism

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Centre for Cultural Studies (1998-2017)


30 June 2015

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

24 Jul 2015 12:58

Last Modified:

08 Sep 2022 13:50


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