Abstract

The United States has one of the world’s most extensive systems of mass removal. Its historical roots draw on 19th century biopolitical traditions of border control and internal anti-immigrant policing. In the early 20th century, rail technologies enabled an economical assemblage of steel and law, of racism and politics, attempting national purification by expelling ‘undesirable aliens.’ The process differentiated between the categories of privileged citizenship and abject alienage. The possibilities of national cleansing through deportation allowed new modes of sovereign governance, defined territories, and controlled populations—foundational aspects of modern nationhood.

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