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Author: Nabil Echchaibi

Abstract

Against the promise of free movement and mobility celebrated by the narrative of capitalism and globalization, the border stands as a stark reminder of the terrorizing history of death, destruction, and humiliation at the frontier. Like the Atlantic Ocean, home of the invisible and brutalizing memory of the slave trade, the Mediterranean and the Sonoran Desert today have become a dead zone, a dark trail of loss and sufferance amidst faint dreams of open lands and seas and freedom to roam. The growing militarization and securitization of the border unleashed by sophisticated technologies and algorithms of surveillance reflect a disturbing precariousness of empathy which seeks to conceal and banalize the trauma of crossing frontiers. By framing the debate of borders around security, threat and territory, the narrow calculus of border thinking multiplies and mutates beyond the physical spaces of the frontier, animating in the process a narrative of invasion, cultural purity, and territorial privilege. This article offers a critical reading of the politics, performance, and poetics of the border, border practices and border thinking in our current fractious conjuncture. Using the works of Caribbean poet and philosopher Edouard Glissant, I argue for a different interpretation and poetics of the border, one which does not nullify rootedness but refutes the tyranny of the “totalitarian root”. Under this alternative imaginary, the degeneration of borders into zones of non-being and the converse image of mobility as a human right force us to re-visit old fundamental questions about the distribution of the earth.

In: Interdisciplinary Journal for Religion and Transformation in Contemporary Society