- The Deportation Regime: Sovereignty, Space and the Freedom of Movement ed. by Nicolas De Genova and Nathalie Peutz
In 2009 and 2010, a record number of individuals were deported from the United States. This increase in deportations coincides with the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and is just one example of the rise of what De Genova and Peutz call the modern “Deportation Regime.” As this comprehensive volume demonstrates, signs of a deportation regime are evident on a global scale. In an earlier article by De Genova published in the Annual Review of Anthropology (2002), he suggests going beyond descriptions of migrant illegality to explore the “legal production of migrant ‘illegality’.” This volume does just that by recording the proliferation of deportation policies and practices across space. Whether in the United States or elsewhere, three features characterize the modern deportation regime: (a) a concern over border security, (b) an expansion of deportable offenses, and (c) the individualization of deportation procedures.
Part 2 critically examines why there has been a rise in preoccupation with deportation worldwide. Deportation is an economic enterprise (Chapter 1). It is also an expression of state power (Chapter 2), and a reaction to processes of globalization which have undermined nation-state sovereignty. This is, of course, complicated in the case of Europe, where the European Union creates new challenges to economic and political sovereignty (Chapter 3).
Part 3 explores “spaces of deportability,” which contrast significantly from deportation acts, for it is the possibility of a deportation, not the act itself, which matters. Chapters tour migrants’ experiences of deportability across the globe, including the controls over migrant mobility in detention camps in the Mediterranean (Chapter 4), the fears among migrants in the borderlands of the US (Chapter 5), the physical violence of the Kafala system in the Gulf (Chapter 6), the supposed multi-cultural space of Switzerland (Chapter 7), the contradictions between humanitarianism and exclusion in Germany (Chapter 8), the state propaganda campaigns against immigrants in Israel (Chapter 9), and finally the economic violence experienced by a community in California (Chapter 10). Part 4 looks specifically at the consequences of forced movement for individuals, including the peculiarities of a post-9/11 trial in U.S. courts (Chapter 11), the removal of an ex-gang member from the United States to El Salvador (Chapter 12), and the experiences of returnees to Somaliland (Chapter 13). Part 5 ties experiences of forced mobility back to theory, reminding us that individuals are not mere objects of deportation but also exert agency in how they respond to spaces of deportability.
This volume does a superb job of theorizing deportation beyond a mere act; in doing so we get a greater appreciation of how such acts are intricately linked to [End Page 224] nation-state projects under globalization and have economic implications. It also points out the implications such a regime has for individuals’ experiences of freedom. However, the volume does little to analyze consequences of the Deportation Regime beyond the individual. To take one historical example from the American context: Evenlyn Nakano Glenn’s 1983 article published in the Journal of Marriage & Family has shown that the Chinese Exclusion Act shaped the structure of Chinese immigrant families and, consequently, the composition of immigrant communities in the United States. In this same vein, I would like to know more about how the Deportation Regime of the modern era transforms social institutions such as the family, law, and education. Analysis of the systematic consequences of deportations, and deportability, on social structures avoids the individualization of deportations. It also furthers our understanding of how the rise of the Deportation Regime may come to shape future generations growing up in the United States and beyond.