Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2018


I interpret data from an ongoing participant observation study of deportation hearings in the North-East United States using two analytical themes: (i) the emergence of the deportation regime and its mechanisms of structural violence, and (ii) the norms of violence in the spaces of the deportation regime. By deportation regime I am referring to the institutional systems and practices created under the emergence of an exceptional security state and the discrete and not so discrete apparatuses and rituals employed to discipline the minds and bodies of documented and undocumented immigrant labor and the collateral consequences that result. Whereas structural violence refers to the systemic social arrangements that inflict social harm on individuals by depriving them of their basic human rights to exist, often leading to their premature deaths. I focus on the various forms of violence in the social spaces where the regime exerts its almost unchecked power. I argue that the violence that flows from the regime has an extraordinary impact not only on immigrant non-citizens but also on immigrant citizens and non-immigrant citizens. This structural violence has a spiraling and amplifying effect, infecting a wide range of social relations as its power intimidates, terrorizes, contains and subordinate individuals and communities, subjecting them to its state-enforced mandate to remove “undesirable” elements from the social body. Such state-sponsored policies and practices aim to dehumanize, disorient, distract, humiliate and intimidate and are not the unintentional consequences of otherwise rational and measured policies aimed at the common good.


This work was originallypublished in L'Année sociologique, available at

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