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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter December 6, 2019

Imperial Whiteness: Fantasy, Colonialism and New Walls

Jenny Stümer
From the journal New Global Studies

Abstract

Thirty years after the fall the Berlin wall, political walls in Europe, Israel and the United States safeguard divisions that are based on the defensive projection and protection of besieged “whiteness.” These new barriers take the shape of impassable fences, brick walls, barbed wire barricades, and precarious crossings, negotiating physical and imaginary boundaries. Reworking colonial power structures, contemporary walls are tethered to imperial fantasies that produce whiteness as the insidious marker of religious, economic and racial hierarchies. Notably, these walls sustain an intricate dynamic between visibility and invisibility, ensuring the proliferation of the borderless civilized West (so long as the other remains excluded and hidden from view). At the same time, political walls circumscribe the affective and expansive force-field of whiteness, revealing its enduring efficacy. In this article I look at the recent fortification of fortress Europe, Israel’s escalating security fence and Donald Trump’s promised wall in the US in order to discuss the ways in which the material and ideological walls reappearing around the world are animated by myriad defenses of toxic vulnerability and white affect.

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Published Online: 2019-12-06
Published in Print: 2019-11-18

© 2019 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

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