Imperial Whiteness: Fantasy, Colonialism and New Walls

Jenny Stümer 1
  • 1 The University of Auckland, 1142, Auckland, New Zealand
Jenny Stümer

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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New Global Studies approaches contemporary globalization as a whole and across disciplinary lines. It draws from history, sociology, anthropology, political science and international relations to study the past and present of today's globalizing process. Topics include economic globalization, global media networks, preservation of the global environment, transnational manifestations of culture and the methodology of global studies itself.

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