This article examines how state practices around food contribute to the militarization of the migration experience. Specifically, I argue for more attention to the feeding practices of detention centers in particular, as the topic of food has been relatively absent from critical analyses of surveillance, detention, and deportation of unauthorized migrants. In the case of detention centers, depriving detainees of food is a primary mode of constructing detainee subjectivity. I present evidence of how detention systems both reinforce the logic of contemporary biopolitics by exacting discipline on migrant bodies through the provision of “border meals,” and extract value from detainees’ bodies in the form of profits for private industry. In looking to identify possible pathways toward change in this system, I suggest that there are problems with attempting to dismantle current detention practices by relying on a discourse that foregrounds detainees’ “trauma.” Instead, I argue that we may find migrants’ enacting resistance to the larger structures in which a system of detention in embedded through re-interpreting everyday expressions of affect.
Border Meals: Detention Center Feeding Practices, Migrant Subjectivity, and Questions on Trauma
Megan A. Carney is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Comparative Border Studies Institute at Arizona State University. She received her PhD in Anthropology from UC Santa Barbara in June 2012. Her research interests are in critical medical anthropology, women’s migration, caring labor, and the body. She is currently completing a book on migration, care, and the biopolitics of food insecurity. In addition to continuing to work with Mexican and Central American migrant women in the U.S., she is currently engaged in research that examines migrant women's health in the context of austerity measures in Italy.
- Views Icon Views
- Share Icon Share
- Search Site
Megan A. Carney; Border Meals: Detention Center Feeding Practices, Migrant Subjectivity, and Questions on Trauma. Gastronomica 1 November 2013; 13 (4): 32–46. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/gfc.2013.13.4.32
Download citation file: