Violence in the Experience of Deportation from the United States

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 09:48
Location: Hörsaal 07 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Agnieszka RADZIWINOWICZÓWNA, University of Warsaw, Poland
The topic of deportation has been long neglected and it was not until the onset of this century that we have witnessed intensive development of the literature dealing with the problem. Deportability and deportation have been argued to be a mean of production of sovereignty in the modern nation-State (Walters 2002, De Genova 2010), especially in the face of unauthorized flows of transnational migrants, often perceived by the sovereign states as “losing control”. This paper, although indebted to the scholarship on deportation, seeks to path its own way by the adoption of micro-level approach and attempt to show the intimate face of social suffering related to deportation. The aim of this paper is to show the process of deportation from the perspective of individual as an experience in which various forms of violence come together. Drawing upon ethnographic research conducted by the author between 2012 and 2014 in a Mexican pueblo, 31 testimonies of Mixtec deportees in particular, the paper gives an account of the lived experience of the US State that encloses in the process of deportation. The paper looks at the stages that from individual perspective compound the process of deportation: detection and apprehension, detention, immigration court, and transfer to the country of citizenship; and inquires into types of violence that operate on each of them. The contribution of the paper is to show that the suffering of the deportees consists not only in the physical violence that sometimes is used by the US law enforcement agents, but also by the structural violence that contributes to their deportability, and symbolic violence that often operates during the hearing before immigration judge.