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Bringing Back the (B)order: Post-9/11 Politics of Immigration, Borders, and Belonging in the Contemporary US South

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Post 9/11, debates about borders, immigration, and belonging have reached a new intensity in the US South. The temporal overlap of growing immigration to the South since the late 1990s and growing nativist sentiment across the US since 9/11 has led southern communities to fuse new regional racial demographics to new national border anxieties. This convergence enables southern political elites to address the changing contours of local communities through recourse to national imperatives of border security, all the while avoiding an explicit language of race in a thoroughly racialized debate. In an analysis of recent political maneuvers in the South, this article examines what happens when debates about nation, community, and borders are relocated to southern spaces heretofore absent in discussions of immigration. It argues that legislative actions against immigrant populations in southern states are virulent and multi-scalar border policings in which concerns about the social and cultural boundaries of southern communities, new racial projects across the South, and post-9/11 immigrant anxieties across the US become inseparable. To conclude, it discusses the theoretical insight that this critical assessment of the South's new border projects offers vis-à-vis understandings of, and struggles against, exclusion, racism, and social injustice.

Keywords: 9/11; US South; immigration; political geographies; scale; the border

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Geography, The Maxwell School, Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY, USA;, Email:

Publication date: November 1, 2007


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