Department of Sociology

Harel Shapira - "Waiting for José: The Minutemen’s Pursuit of America"

Wed, October 31, 2012 | BUR 214

12:00 PM

Abstract: In an age of globalization, the border has become a lightning rod for the politics of belonging. On the one hand, the border is a legal boundary; but it is also a physical and symbolic object that promotes new kinds of social practices, shared projects, and collective identities. Through an ethnographic study of the militia group known as the Minutemen, this talk examines the role that the U.S. / Mexico border plays in defining people’s lives. For the Minutemen, the U.S. / Mexico border has become a resource for restoring conditions of life that they have struggled to maintain: soldiering, securing the nation, protecting family members, establishing masculine camaraderie, and preserving the sanctity of domestic life. By patrolling the border, the Minutemen escape the profane state of meaningless existence that defines their current lives as aging veterans, and launch themselves into a sacred, morally meaningful quest. In this way, the Minutemen’s border politics are not just organized around a set of attitudes or beliefs about immigration, but about a way of being in the world.
Bio: Harel Shapira (PhD, Columbia) is a postdoctoral Fellow at the Institute for Public Knowledge at New York University. His book, Waiting for José: The Minutemen’s Pursuit of America will be published by Princeton University Press in March 2013.

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  • Department of Sociology

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