Caroline Tracey

Inside the Space of Exception: Life, Death, and Land in the South Texas Borderlands

My research examines the relationship between death, political community, and contested space in South Texas, a region that is at once on the margins of the United States, and at the center of the nation’s ongoing efforts to articulate its boundaries and sovereignty. As Brooks County, Texas, has become the epicenter of migrant traffic and death in the United States, two NGOs—opposed in structure and politics, and reflective of historically antagonistic racialized social formations in the region—were incorporated. I use ethnographic research methods alongside these two organizations to understand how legacies of antagonism and new realities of death affect the ways that local politics and federal enforcement agencies condition each other’s work in the region.This project’s attention to local political and social formations transforms what we think we know about state border militarization, revealing its capacities to be shaped according to local plans and conflicts, both longstanding and now-emerging out of a novel triangulation between space, race, and death