The body is the object of border protection. Yet the body remains largely outside reigning notions of the political in debates on bordering practices and challenges to it. Exploring what bodies do in their performativity as they negotiate and resist the securitisation of forced migration can open up new ways of understanding the disruptive potential of the body. In this paper, I draw on Judith Butler’s seminal work on contingency and norms of existence, along with her musings on forms of assembly, and recent feminist scholarship on social movements, to think through what the #LetThemStay and #BringThemHere protests in Australia might signal as advocates for those seeking asylum put their bodies on the line to disrupt the federal government’s border protection policy – Operation Sovereign Borders. While people seeking asylum themselves are at the bodily forefront of opposition and resistance – their bodies and bodily tactics negotiating border enforcement technologies – it is the bodily performativities of advocates for those seeking asylum that are the focus of this paper. The paper describes the way linguistic and bodily performativity coalesce in these performativities of protest as advocates embody the sociality being asserted. By making explicit the embodied politics at play in these forms of assembly, I explore the transformative potential of the body in its myriad capacities adding to long-standing feminist calls for a ‘corporeal geopolitics’ in political geography, one that centres the already existing politics of bodies.
SOURCE: Paul Hodge. “#LetThemStay#BringThemHere: Embodied politics, asylum seeking, and performativities of protest opposing Australia’s Operation Sovereign Borders.” Environment and Planning C: Politics and Space, July 19, 2018.
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