BOOK TALK: Unsettled Borders, with FMST/CRES Prof. Felicity Schaeffer

April 28, 2023


Join us as we celebrate the publication of the latest book by FMST/CRES Professor Felicity Schaeffer — Unsettled Borders: The Militarized Science of Surveillance on Sacred Indigenous Land (Duke University Press). Prof. Schaeffer will discuss her book in conversation with Jennifer Gonzalez and Kat Gutierrez.

MAY 3 @ 4 pm PT

Attend in-person: H1, room 210, or virtually here.

In Unsettled Borders, Schaeffer examines the ongoing settler colonial war over the US-Mexico border from the perspective of Apache, Tohono O’odham, and Maya who fight to protect their sacred land. Schaeffer traces the scientific and technological development of militarized border surveillance across time and space: from Spanish colonial lookout points in Arizona and Mexico; to the Indian wars when the US cavalry hired Native scouts to track Apache fleeing into Mexico; to the occupation of the Tohono O’odham reservation; and the recent launch of robotic bee swarms. Labeled “Optics Valley,” Arizona builds on a global history of violent dispossession and containment of Native peoples and migrants by branding itself as a profitable hub for surveillance. Schaeffer reverses the logic of borders by turning to Indigenous sacred sciences, or ancestral land-based practices that are critical to reversing the ecological and social violence of surveillance, extraction, and occupation. 

new-f.schaeffer-crop-100x100.jpgIn a recent THI interview, Prof. Schaeffer said, "My grandparents migrated across the US-Mexico border before it was even a border, during the Mexican Revolution. Borders have been an obsession of mine because they’ve defined so much of my family’s life and how they see themselves as Mexican-Americans in this country. At this moment when the border is becoming more dangerous and militarized, I started to think, how has it become so militarized? How would you begin to research that?” Read more about how Felicity's research for her new book here

“Offering key insights into our current moment’s militarized border zones, Felicity Amaya Schaeffer uncovers the multilayered structures of border control, where new technologies are utilized as nefarious forms of surveillance. Her attention to the power of theoretical language, Native histories, and the embodied experience of Indigeneity points to the powerful acts of resistance that are embedded in local struggles over representation and territory. Articulating an anticolonial vision of the border that decries the profound consequences of occupation and dispossession, Schaeffer shows why frontier history matters.” — Macarena Gómez-Barris, author of The Extractive Zone: Social Ecologies and Decolonial Perspectives