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Walled States, Waning Sovereignty

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Why the current proliferation of nation-state walls, especially amidst widespread proclamations of global connectedness and anticipation of a world without borders? And why barricades built of concrete, steel and barbed wire when threats to the nation today are so often miniaturized, vaporous, clandestine, dispersed or networked? Why walls now and how are they to be understood? This project considers the recent spate of wall building through the problematic of eroded nation-state sovereignty. As walls permit infiltration by much of what they formally interdict, confound the distinction between law and lawlessness represented by the nation state, and both highlight and exacerbate tensions between global flows and national anxieties, walls project an imago of sovereign power that the nation-state cannot sustain. And as they consecrate the boundary corruption they overtly contest, they signify the ungovernability by law of a range of forces unleashed by globalization.

This talk is part of the Social Theory Seminars series.

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