Dissertation Abstracts

Living/Leaving the Deportation Regime: Power and Violence in Deportation from the United States

Author: Agnieszka Radziwinowiczówna, a.radziwinowicz@is.uw.edu.pl
Department: Department of Social Anthropology
University: University of Warsaw, Poland
Supervisor: Prof. Ewa Nowicka
Year of completion: 2016
Language of dissertation: English

Keywords: migration , deportation , Mexico , biopolitics
Areas of Research: Migration , Theory


The dissertation analyses the case of Mexico-US migration, largely unauthorized (over half of the Mexican immigrant are unauthorized in the United States, and Mexicans are the most numerous national group among the people deported from the United States). Research problem has been stated as follows, “How are deportation regimes localized, both in the experience of individuals and communities they originate from?” Research problem stated in this way called for multi-level analysis, especially for exploration of mezzo-level processes that concern deportable communities and micro-level that relate to individual experience of the deportable and deportees. Ethnographic fieldwork, carried out by the author of the dissertation in a Mexican pueblo San Ángel, Oaxaca, enabled explorations of the experience of deportation by individuals and their transnational community. Moreover, the analysis called for inclusion of the level macro, namely political and material technologies that compose deportation regimes. Deportation regimes are localized in lives of migrants as deportability and deportation. The author of the dissertation enters into dialogue with deportation theorists (De Genova 2010; Pope and Garret 2013), and – drawing upon ethnographically grounded data – ponders comparison of the deported individual to homo sacer and its attribution – bare life. The contribution of the inquiry into the lived experience of deportation is that the people in deportation process often do feel vulnerable and powerless vis-à-vis the deporting State, especially in the immigration court, however, it is not a general rule. One of the findings is that those interviewees who were in immigration detention, easily accepted deportation order. Individuals who were not detained, on the contrary, had counter-hegemonic agency to appeal deportation order and exceeded their residence in the United States. The research identifies various types of power (sovereign, disciplinary, biopower) and violence (physical, symbolic, structural) through which deportation regime is localized in the individual experience. This dissertation confirms other authors’ observation (cf. De Genova 2010; Willen 2007), according to which deportation is an embodied experience of biopolitics, as some of them are detained as a consequence of racial profiling and the process of deportation – in particular, immigration detention – is filled with biopolitical practices, such as the use of biometrics. The mezzo level considered, deportation regime is localized both through deportability and deportation of members of transnational community. Even immobile community members are aware that their significant others that live in the United States are endangered with deportation. They acquire knowledge about material and political technologies of the US deportation regime in the form of migratory social remittances (Levitt 1998). On the other hand, the gossip about migrants apprehended by the US immigration authorities transnationalizes easily, and those who return deported to their place of origin are labeled “deportees” and mocked of, and they experience symbolic violence based on the US legal classifications. Therefore, it is difficult to escape from classificatory power (Kearney 2006) after returning to Mexico, which makes “leaving the US deportation regime” impossible.

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