"Fanonizing," and "Foucaulding" State B/orders: What is it that we fear?

  • Agnes Behr United States International University-Africa
Keywords: Fanon, Foucault borders identity state


A state border is ideally inelastic, 'incapable' of expanding or contracting to increase or decrease the geographic territory of each. Yet a state border relies on individuals' conformity to legal rules and, to a larger extend, unwritten rules or norms to become enforceable and visualized. Frantz Fanon, Michel Foucault both show how power plays occur. The ability of the power wielder to alter the individuals' behavior creates binding power. In Fanon's "Black skins white masks," the individual conformity to another's norms and practices creates Foucault's de-individualization. Foucault also shows how Panopticon or surveillance shapes the surveilled's behavior, where the policed become the police. Both Fanon and Foucault show the power shifts as a result of a subjective norm, informing the processes that shape an objective behavior. In analyzing behavior and a snippet of the Kenya-Somalia and the US-Mexican borders, the study attempts to answer Van Houtum's question, what is it that we fear? The research shows individuals change substantial cultural differences in adherence, and eagerness to please the orders at the border. The state fears losing sovereignty through individuals' disobedience while the latter fear losing freedom through state punishment by imprisonment as a result of flouting border rules. The research incorporates field findings at the Kenya-Somalia and US-Mexican (Tijuana) border. Amina's border experience and performances in navigating the border fears are teased out as an answer to Van Houtum's question, unmask Fanon's subjects, and locate the de-individualization posed by Foucault's Panopticon.

Author Biography

Agnes Behr, United States International University-Africa

Dr. Agnes Wanjiru Behr is Adjunct faculty at the United States International University-Africa.


Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1998-1279