Bonnie Cherry

The Gift and the Ghost: A Transnational Feminist Reading of the Tohono O'Odham Borderlands
Interdisciplinary Studies
Spring 2017

My project uses critical queer and feminist security studies move beyond the boundaries of “state-centric” theory, and focuses on the liminal sovereignty and citizenship of those who reside in “domestic-dependent nations” in the borderlands as well as their role as mediators between the State and “illegal” migrant bodies. I will examine the white supremicist institutional abjection of migrant and indigenous bodies as the discursive creation of “pathological problem groups” which justify and reproduce border security: while the migrant represents the uncertain spectre of future threat to state security, the indigenous subject represents the uncanny figure which should no longer be present, a relic (or ghost) of a bygone era. I will build on the works of Julia Kristeva, Mimi Thi Nguyen, and Avery Gordon to provide a transnational feminist analysis of the concepts of “gift” and “ghost” in the Tohono O’Odham borderlands: the ways in which memories and hauntings of coloniality and power are ever present, and how they are affectively weaponized by the State, either defensively or offensively. I will conclude by exploring the anti-hegemonic possibilities in reckoning with (or exorcising) these ghosts.