Racism and Borders: Representation, Repression, Resistance

By Jeff Shantz | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 8. NO ONE IS ILLEGAL: RESISTANCE AND BORDERS

Jeff Shantz

Much writing on capitalist globalization speaks of diminishing nation states in the face of growing trade and communications flows. Prominent analyses of contemporary movements have tended towards, on one hand, an uncritical celebration of smooth (borderless) aspects of globalism or, on the other hand, towards a “Left nationalism” that seeks to address the ills of globalization through appeals for a return to the protectionist Keynesian state. Despite apparent differences both approaches are underpinned by the same association of globalization with the decline of territorial nation states. Both perspectives fail to come to grips with the evolving role of the state in fostering or maintaining the inequalities associated with globalization.

Perhaps out of hopefulness more than analysis some social theorists have uncritically celebrated a perceived decline of nation states. Much has been made in recent social theory of the “flow” across borders supposedly characterizing the age of globalization. Thom Kuehls (1996) suggests that the emergence of “flows,” notably satellite communications and the Internet, provide spaces for an enactment of politics beyond the bounded spaces of states. These emergent spaces of action “are said to offer great opportunities for activism beyond sovereign territories” (Shantz 1998, 97).

Even Left social activists have been drawn to emphasize mobility and the permeability of borders. For example, one activist and academic inspired by the works of Gramsci and Freire, suggests, perhaps hopefully, that “the complex

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