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Title:"When in doubt, deport!": U.S. deportation and the local policing of global migration during the 1920s
Author(s):Pope-Obeda, Emily Karen
Director of Research:Barrett, James
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Barrett, James
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Oberdeck, Kathryn; Hoganson, Kristin; Schneider, Dorothee
Department / Program:History
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Abstract:This dissertation focuses on deportation practice throughout the 1920s and its social and cultural ramifications, arguing for the necessity of looking beyond the national policy frame to reveal the full significance of deportation in American society. The project highlights the intersecting ideas about race, political ideologies, civil liberties, criminology and pathology, and gender and sexual transgressions that informed the ways a variety of actors enacted deportation and negotiated its meaning on the ground. In so doing, it reveals how deportation served as a locus through which the politics of inclusion and exclusion was remapped. I illustrate what was behind the steady yearly rise in deportees, from 2,762 in 1920 to 16,631 by 1930, and in doing so, question the dominant periodization of deportation, which has often presented it as a series of hysterical, episodic outbursts of repression. Instead, I argue that it was a far more continuous and momentous process of social policing of the national body, and highlight the 1920s as a crucial period when exclusion and belonging were negotiated, not only through legislation, but in the streets, prisons, hospitals, asylums, and media discourse. As immigration officials and local authorities sought to enforce abstract policies, they ran up against the reality of migrants as embodied individuals and communities, whose national and racial identities, sexuality, mental and physical health did not fit within neatly prescribed legal categories. My dissertation is organized along the nesting scales of space at which deportation was practiced: global, national, local, institutional, and the body in detention and transportation. Each of these levels allows for a broader understanding of the intersecting points of authority and state control, ideology and pragmatics required for the building of an unprecedented deportation machinery. At the global level, I explore U.S. participation in international networks to coordinate deportations, the complexity of addressing shifting borders and imperial landscapes, discourses around other nation's deportation practices, and challenges posed by deportees whose trajectories did not fit simple migration patterns. The national level addresses the ways in which deportation served not only to create new delineations of potential citizen or undesirable migrant, but also to build the power of the state, even as it continued to be plagued by insufficient funding and struggles for greater consolidation. At the local level, I trace deportation into the nation’s heartland, arguing that while the law was federal, the enforcement was intensely shaped by local political agendas and police forces, ethnic and racial biases, and labor needs. The institutional chapter explores how the spaces where deportation operated--prisons, mental asylums, hospitals, juvenile reformatories--were all critical sites in the early twentieth century for the identification, surveillance, and punishment of individuals within hierarchies of racialized bodies. Finally, I go down to the level of embodied experience, as deportees underwent long periods of detention in county jails, private homes, and makeshift holding centers, train journeys to the ports for removal, and the complex logistics of shipping and ground transport abroad. Examined from these angles, deportation becomes far more than a tool of immigration policy at the borders. Indeed, deportation practice during the early 20th century expanded the reach of the bureaucratic state and brought the process of determining inclusion and exclusion into cities, towns, and institutions across the interior of the country.
Issue Date:2016-07-14
Rights Information:Copyright 2016 Emily Pope-Obeda
Date Available in IDEALS:2016-11-10
Date Deposited:2016-08

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