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Caging Borders and Carceral StatesIncarcerations, Immigration Detentions, and Resistance$
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Robert T. Chase

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781469651231

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469651231.001.0001

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The Means and Meanings of Carceral Mobility

The Means and Meanings of Carceral Mobility

U.S. Deportation Trains and the Early Twentieth-Century Deportation Assemblage

(p.93) The Means and Meanings of Carceral Mobility
Caging Borders and Carceral States

Ethan Blue

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter explores how trains and steamboats—the iconic engines of mobility, freedom, and transcontinental connection—also served nativist designs as the new technology for mobile captivity and national expulsion. Situated between the intersection of settler economy and rapid industrialization, the chapter’s transnational exploration of deportation trains dissects the private–public partnership between state agencies and the Southern Pacific Railroad. This partnership first detained and deported Chinese immigrants in the American West, and from that experience a “hybrid public–private space” was created as an engine of deportability that affirmed national border control through rapid locomotion. After being detained, the state placed Chinese and Mexican noncitizens aboard train cars where moving segregation and speedy expulsion ensured locomotive border control. This chapter argues that historians must adopt a “mobility turn” that moves beyond the permanence of fixed carceral structures and institutions to adopt a more transnational view where the coerced and confined dislocation of people is bound to the blur of carceral motion.

Keywords:   Trains, Steamboats, Captivity, Expulsion, Deportation, Southern Pacific Railroad, Chinese, Immigrants, Mexican, noncitizens

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