Handbook on Human Security, Borders and Migration
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Handbook on Human Security, Borders and Migration

Edited by Natalia Ribas-Mateos and Timothy J. Dunn

Drawing on the concept of the ‘politics of compassion’, this Handbook interrogates the political, geopolitical, social and anthropological processes which produce and govern borders and give rise to contemporary border violence.
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Chapter 3: The mantling and dismantling of a tent city at the U.S.-Mexico border

Cynthia Bejarano and Ma. Eugenia Hernández Sánchez


Bejarano and Hernández examine the practice of migrants creating a ‘tent city within a city,’ one tent at a time, or one shelter at a time, transformed the urbans capes, political economy, and social relations of the border metropolis of Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, Mexico, as a phenomenon of being both displaced and disposable interlocks with ideologies of racism, classism, nativism, and sexism, formed in a intersectional vulnerability. They explore the tent city/settlement phenomenon via the interconnecting concepts of displacement, disposability, debordering, and re-bordering (within the modes of survival of different border populations, with reference to a “Border Tuner” project, which allowed people across borders to literally hear each other’s heartbeats and to speak to one another without limits. They describe tent cities as a system of symbolic basurization where both the U.S. and Mexico profit ideologically from the construction of disposable people. For that they use ethnographic work on a tent city, through a system of border dialogues in order to do justice to our representations. They focus on the ethnography of displacement, analyzed as a previous experience of dispossession, as well as oppressive mechanism while appropriated as resistance. The view how tent city/ies, as small settlements appeared and disappeared suddenly. Thus, the contrast of human mobility of Central American migrants as forced migration, clashes with a city facing at least three decades of violence.

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