The Vigilance of Those Mistaken for Migrants in the U.S.-Mexican Border Area
This project examines constellations of vigilance in the border city of San Diego, Southern California.
Many US citizens of Chicano, Mexican, or Puerto Rican heritage have always lived in the mainland US, yet are often falsely perceived as “strangers” and “immigrants.” We ask how members of these partially connected communities respond to overlapping forms of vertical state surveillance and horizontal citizens’ vigilantism by employing their own practices of watchfulness, self-defense, healing, and consciousness-raising to resist, reproduce, or avoid racism, and to seek respect and self-determination. We thus investigate forms of vigilance (in the widest sense) directed towards oneself as well as towards others near the world’s most militarized border.
In what ways are cultures of vigilance inflected by the built environment, policing technologies, phenotype, ethnic belonging, gender, age, class, and political attitudes? As it profoundly shapes individual and collective ways of being in the world, how does vigilance transform notions of citizenship and illegality, sociality, and belonging among border residents in San Diego? What are the material and embodied dimensions of vigilance and life on the border?