New book traces the scientific and technological development of the militarized frontier

In his new book, Professor of Feminist Studies and Critical Race and Ethnic Studies Felicity Amaya Schaefer draws the surprising connection between indigenous ways of life and relations with the land with modern-day military border surveillance techniques.

Unsettled Borders: The Military Science of Surveillance on Sacred Indigenous Lands (Duke University Press, August 2022) The US-Mexico border and beyond through the perspective of native tribes living across the border and forcing their lands from the Maya region of Mexico and Guatemala. The book expands on Schaefer’s research interests from his previous book, love and empire, in which he described the rise of cyber marriage as a route to migration and citizenship. “I’m always thinking about limits/and technology,” she says. “My grandparents crossed the US-Mexico border even before the border was in place, during the Mexican Revolution. There is nothing natural about borders, yet borders have been my passion because they have defined so much of my family’s life and how they see themselves as Mexican-Americans in this country. At a time when the border is becoming more dangerous and militarized, I wondered, how did it become so militarized? How do you start researching that?”

Readers may be surprised to learn that technologies such as the Swarm drone and an automated Border Patrol agent called Avatar are not concepts of the future. black Mirror episode but part of the current frontier realities. in scattered chapters Apache, Tohono O’odham, and Maya cultures, Schaefer unveils ways indigenous concepts can be co-opted in AI and robotics On th eway For example, stemming from military technology, Apache monitoring methods and how swarm monitoring “(mis)appropriates Maya beekeeping science.”

In the course of her research, “it became clear that there was this deep connection,” she says. “Reservation prevention, border control, was a heartbreaking story to think about, how Indian fugitives were a threat to the western border and the newly purchased southwest border area with Mexico – these Apaches and Sioux Indian scouts They were hired by the cavalry to be the eye of the army before there were drones.” The drones, she explains, now have names like “Apache” and “Blackhawk.”

Schaefer traveled to Tech Park at the University of Arizona and “followed the techniques they were using to militarize the border,” she says. “The academy was implicated in the study and design of border technologies.” Researching at a stage when she didn’t yet know what the book would be, she focused more on how technologies affect migrants. “I didn’t know it was another story,” she says. “When I went to Tech Park, I thought I’d find drones and surveillance towers, but a woman I was interviewing sent me to Fort Huachuca, and that’s where the story really started for me.”

As her discoveries resonated deeply, Schaefer was also faced with uncertainty. While indigenous practices such as knowledge of herbs and other healing techniques continued to be practiced by her Mexican grandmother, who denied any claims of being indigenous, she felt uncertain about whether the natives living in the border areas People had a story to tell them. “This project came to the fore at a time when I began to engage with being called back to the land as a de-nativeized zikana. It was a project that continued to draw me in.”

At the same time, she met some tribal members of Oodham reservation through one of her students. They came to Santa Cruz from Arizona and, over dinner, started talking about the impact of the limit on their reservations. “Our approaches were aligned,” she says. “He invited me to the reservation so that I could see the border myself, understand more about their land, and talk with elders and others fighting against the border wall. It was a powerful journey.” The O’odham Reservation extends to an area often referred to as the US-Mexico border area, and Schaefer describes disruptions to its land, including the construction of a border wall and surveillance infrastructure to create ancestral burial grounds and sacred sites. Involves destroying the saguaro cactus.

Schaefer hopes for a borderless world and the return of the land to the many native tribes living on and beyond this land. In conclusion she calls for an end to technological violence to end border infrastructure and frontier thinking that enforces genocidal violence against indigenous peoples across time and space: “Wire, metal and virtual fences will collapse, rust. will eat, and perish. As the empire expands, so do the natives and allies in broad-based opposition that includes the mighty ancestors of the Earth. Water will flow, animals will cross, and flowers will then bloom. so that the land and the people may heal and regenerate the gift of life for all.”

Schaefer, who is currently the Baskin Foundation Presidential Chair for Feminist Studies, is grateful that her research was supported by a UCSC COR grant, a grant from the Research Center of America, and a writing program launched in 2020 from the Fellow Academy. Former Executive Vice Chancellor Marlene Tromp. income from unstable borders Support the participants of Tohono O’odham Peace and Dignity Tour,

A new project she is launching is a public seminar on the emerging area of ​​Indigenous frontier areas through the Baskin Ended Chair in the Winter Quarter. “The Indigenous Frontier Symposium explodes nation-state thinking through intimate and planetary-scale land-based exercises to reconfigure, belong, law, and land and become human boundaries. He hopes the symposium The conversation will culminate in a collaborative special issue of a journal she is working on with her colleagues at UC-Systems.

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