Migrant flows and necro-sovereignty: the itineraries of bodies, samples, and data across the US-Mexico borderlands

Vivette García-Deister, Lindsay A. Smith

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    2 Scopus citations

    Abstract

    Through an ethnographic examination of the tension between the practice and politics of mobility, this article examines the movement of bodies as scientific objects and sociopolitical signposts for both sovereignty and identity. In particular, we explore the following paradox: living migrants are seen as dangerous bodies and political threats while dead bodies, specifically, the objects and data generated from their remains make multiple, socially valued migrations across the political space of the border. We argue that scientific objects flow because these objects, not the people, become the currency of necro-sovereignty, a nationalistic currency premised on death and exercised via appeals to human identification as a form of family reunification and the return of bodies-out-of-place to their ‘correct’ locations. Exploration of this paradox also shows that although individuation is the key goal of forensic science, collective identities, including race, class, gender, and nationality, become obligatory passage points in the path toward individuation.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)420-437
    Number of pages18
    JournalBioSocieties
    Volume15
    Issue number3
    DOIs
    StatePublished - Sep 1 2020

    Keywords

    • Bilateral cooperation
    • Forensic science
    • Justice
    • Migration
    • Nation
    • Sovereignty

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Health(social science)
    • Health Policy

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