A Knock at the Door: On the Role of Sovereignty in Migration Policy

Author: Johnson Mihaly
Major: Spanish, International Relations, Philosophy
Approved: Fall 2018
Status: Completed

Human migration and shifting political rationality are fraying the edges of the state and undermining the concept of sovereignty. This project investigates the ideological contest unfolding between neoliberal market rationality and territorial, decisionist notions of state sovereignty. The blending of public and private spheres and the expansion of market rationality into matters of public interest are indicative of this contest. These tendencies are analyzed in two ways, and in two languages. In the United States, this contest manifests at the US-Mexico border via the creation of undocumented labor markets and the infiltration of private interest into the maintenance of the border itself. This analysis is in English and relies on the primary texts of Immanuel Kant and Carl Schmitt to understand competing historical notions of state sovereignty. In Spain, the rise of a new extreme-right political party, VOX, is using the symbolism of the Reconquista as a rallying cry to reestablish sovereignty. This analysis is in Spanish and relies primarily on the recent work of Thomas Nail to contextualize these political phenomena in terms of border policy. The overall project investigates how traditional notions of sovereignty are becoming increasingly difficult to maintain in the 21st century.