Resisting Borders and Technologies of Violence

The border regimes of imperialist states have brutally oppressed migrants throughout the world. To enforce their borders, these states have constructed a new digital fortress with far-reaching and ever-evolving new technologies. This pathbreaking volume exposes these insidious means of surveillance, control, and violence.

In the name of “smart” borders, the U.S. and Europe have turned to private companies to develop a neocolonial laboratory now deployed against the Global South, borderlands, and routes of migration. They have established immigrant databases, digital IDs, electronic tracking systems, facial recognition software, data fusion centers, and more, all to more “efficiently” categorize and control human beings and their movement.

These technologies rarely capture widespread public attention or outrage, but they are quietly remaking our world, scaling up colonial efforts of times past to divide desirables from undesirables, rich from poor, expat from migrant, and citizen from undocumented. The essays and case studies in Resisting Borders and Technologies of Violence shed light on this threat, offering analyses of how the high-tech system of borders developed and inspiring stories of resistance to it.

The organizers, journalists, and scholars in these pages are charting a new path forward, employing creative tools to subvert the status quo, organize globally against high-tech border imperialism, and help us imagine a world without borders.

Contributors: Nasma Ahmed, Khalid Alexander, Sara Baker, Lea Beckmann, Wafa Ben-Hassine, Ruha Benjamin, Maike Bohn, Gracie Mae Bradley, Margaret Cheesman, J. Carlos Lara Gálvez, Timmy Châu, Arely Cruz-Santiago, Ida Danewid, Nick Estes, Rafael Evangelista, Katy Fallon, Marwa Fatafta, Ryan Gerety, Ben Green, Jeff Helper, Nisha Kapoor, Lilly Irani, Brian Jordan Jefferson, Lara Kiswani, Arun Kundnani, Jenna M. Loyd, Rodjé Malcolm, Matthew McNaughton, Todd Miller, Petra Molnar, Mariah Montgomery, Joseph Nevins, Conor O’Reilly, Chai Patel, Tawana Petty, Ernesto Schwartz-Marin, Paromita Shah, Silky Shah, Koen Stoop, Miriam Ticktin, Harsha Walia 

Preferred Citation: Mizue Aizeki, Matt Mahmoudi, and Coline Schupfer, eds., Resisting Borders and Technologies of Violence, New York, NY: Haymarket, 2024.

Book Launch

On February 15, 2024 at 2.00pm – 3.30pm, co-editors Mizue Aizeki, Matt Mahmoudi, Coline Schupfer, along with some of the contributors, Ruha Benjamin, Ruth Wilson Gilmore, Marwa Fatafta and J. Carlos Lara Gálvez launched the anthology to an international audience. The event was sponsored by Haymarket Books and Boston Review. 


Ruha Benjamin is professor of African American studies at Princeton University, founding director of the Ida B. Wells Just Data Lab, and author of the award-winning books Race After Technology: Abolitionist Tools for the New Jim Code (2019) and Viral Justice: How We Grow the World We Want (2022), among other publications.

Marwa Fatafta is a Palestinian researcher and writer who has written extensively on technology, human rights, and internet freedoms in Palestine and the wider Middle East and North Africa region. She leads the work of Access Now on digital rights in the MENA region as the MENA Policy Manager. She is also a policy analyst at the Palestinian think tank Al-Shabaka: The Palestinian Policy Network.

J. Carlos Lara Gálvez is co-executive director at Derechos Digitales, a Latin American organization working at the intersection of human rights and digital technologies. He has experience as an analyst, instructor, and researcher on issues related to data privacy, surveillance, freedom of expression, and access to knowledge in the digital environment.

Ruth Wilson Gilmore is professor of earth and environmental sciences and director of the Center for Place, Culture, and Politics at the City University of New York Graduate Center. Cofounder of many grassroots organizations including the California Prison Moratorium Project, Critical Resistance, and the Central California Environmental Justice Network, Gilmore is the author of the prize-winning Golden Gulag: Prisons, Surplus, Crisis, and Opposition in Globalizing California (UC Press).

The Border Chronicle Podcast

The Border Chronicle Podcast talks about the concept of the ‘The Everywhere Border’ with Mizue Aizeki, focusing on the border, its digitization, expansion, externalization and how we fight back. The Border Chronicle podcast is hosted by longtime journalists, Melissa del Bosque and Todd Miller, based in Tucson, Arizona.



An adapted version of the foreword was published by Inquest on 13 February 2024.

So-called “smart” borders are just more sophisticated sites of racialized surveillance and violence. We need abolitionist tools to counter them.

Horrible.” “Shocking.” “Heartbreaking.” So were some of the reactions to photographs and videos showing U.S. Border Patrol corralling Haitian migrants attempting to cross the Rio Grande into the United States in September 2021. The agents straddled horses, wielding whips and shouting expletives in scenes that seemed to evoke a prior era of racial slavery. Social media erupted with charges of racism at the routine dehumanization of Black, Latinx, and Indigenous migrants, a stark contrast to the border crossers coming into the country from Canada, or those entering the country by plane, including the recent arrival of Ukrainian refugees.

“One group is being met with food, cheers, places to live, etc.—which is what welcoming looks like. And the other group is being met with cowboys with leather straps or ropes and detention by force,” said Nana Gyamfi, the daughter of Ghanaian immigrants and executive director of Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI).

On Instagram, I scrolled past vintage drawings of slave catchers in the 1800s juxtaposed with this recent footage of U.S. Border Patrol agents hovering over the drenched bodies of families carrying their belongings in trash bags. Scrolling further, I saw a friend’s post of a video of Joe Biden in a 1994 PBS interview with Charlie Rose, saying, “If Haiti just quietly sunk into the Caribbean or rose 300 feet into the air, it wouldn’t matter a whole lot in terms of our interests.” Another friend posted the words of poet Warsan Shire, “You have to understand, no one puts their children in a boat unless the water is safer than the land,” floating above the image of a girl clinging to her father as he waded through the water.

The Biden administration knows the land is unsafe for those in Haiti. It acknowledged the dire conditions in the country earlier in the year when the administration announced that Haitians already living in the United States were eligible for Temporary Protected Status. But new arrivals seeking asylum need not apply. Instead, the administration proceeded to expel migrants crossing from Mexico, many of whom had been residing in South America since the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, deporting them to a country experiencing political violence and ongoing humanitarian disasters.

“The US government showed a total disregard for the right to seek asylum when it sent agents on horseback with reins flailing to control and deter this largely Black migrant population,” said Alison Parker, U.S. managing director at Human Rights Watch. “This violent treatment of Haitians at the border is just the latest example of racially discriminatory, abusive, and illegal US border policies that are returning people to harm and humanitarian disaster.”

But it is not simply border agents on horseback that make the scene violent—it’s borders, period. The political construction of borders perpetuates global inequalities and routinizes state-sanctioned murder. It does so both by limiting people’s mobility and by punishing those who actively challenge the border regime. As political geographer Reece Jones writes in Violent Borders: “By refusing to abide by a wall, map, property line, border, identity document, or legal regime, mobile people upset the state’s schemes of exclusion, control, and violence. They do this simply by moving.” And in upsetting the state, mobile people become targets for repression.