CMD Colloquium: Paul Kramer

Feb 24, 2022, 12:00 pm1:15 pm
via Zoom
  • Center for Migration and Development
  • Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies
  • Program in Latino Studies
Event Description

Most public discourse about the U. S. immigration boundary (and much scholarship) subscribes to sovereigntist ideas, especially that a state’s immigration control is coextensive with its territorial limits; that boundary regulation is and ought to be a strict function of national self-definition and state sovereignty; and that states and national polities possess equal, symmetrical sovereign power over immigration regulation. But recent and emerging interpretive frameworks and research findings are revealing the many problems with this approach. They’ve revealed the need to problematize and historicize ideas and practices of national sovereignty themselves, particularly in the case of powerful states. As this paper will show, when it comes to immigration control in the 20th century and beyond, the U. S. border hasn’t just mediated between the United States and the world. The U. S. border has, in many senses, been out in the world. In overview form, this talk will explore three ways this has been the case, looking at U. S. borders with the world (in the form of negotiation, diplomacy and international agreement); U. S. borders in the world (the geographic projection of immigration enforcement beyond U. S. territorial limits); and U. S. borders over the world (the calibration of U. S. immigration policy with an eye not only to national self-definition, but to the geopolitics of empire) In brief, while states have exercised sovereign control over immigration, some states — including powerful states like the United States — have been more sovereign than others. Through this approach, histories of immigration control can be detached from sovereigntist assumptions, historically rooted in the intense nationalism, racism and xenophobia of 20th century immigration politics, and re-embedded in an emerging, critical historiography centered on the production, contestation and transformation of unequal and unjust worlds in the past and present.