NYU prof who said borders 'incite violence' organizes panel on borders

“I want to bring together different people who would problematize the notion of borders, and think about mobility, or immobility from various different perspectives," she said.

A recent NYU panel on border politics was organized by a professor who challenges the notion of borders.

A recent NYU panel focusing on border politics was organized by a professor who sought to “problematize the notion of borders.”

Both students and faculty attended the event to hear what was marketed as differing opinions and thoughts from a “diverse” panel. Dean and Professor of Liberal Studies Julie Mostov, who organized the panel, described the purpose of the event as being “to challenge the assumptions about the naturalness of the borders and challenge the assumptions about the need to have hard borders in order to protect national spaces, democratic practices or different ways of living.” 

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Mostov explained that the purpose of this NYU panel was to “bring together different people who would problematize the notion of borders,” and the “different perspectives” to be offered would be around how “mobility or immobility” and society’s “fixed definitions of difference and institutional practices of violence.” 

Mostov has focused on creating an attitude that borders “incite violence” and create “mechanisms for domination.”

In 2010, Mostov put out a paper titled “Rethinking borders, violence, and space,” in which she contends that “while many pundits suggest that it is the lack of defined or secure borders that encourage violent conflicts, facilitates terror-bent incursions, and tempts traffickers to defy border guards,” it is actually “the proliferation of hard borders (symbolic, legal, and material walls, fences, and frontiers) that incite violence, provides mechanisms for domination, and undermines opportunities for peaceful and sustainable political association.”

David Ludden, another panelist, wrote an editorial review of Mostov’s book, Soft Borders: Rethinking Sovereignty and Democracy, in which he praises Mostov for “explaining why hard borders foster a violent, exclusionary, and repressive politics of ethnocracy by fixing and naturalizing difference and creating vulnerable ‘others’ inside and outside national boundaries.” 

Cristina Beltran, NYU Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies was one of the professors who Mostov invited to take part in the panel. Beltran is the author of The Trouble With Unity, a book that focuses on Latino identity politics, and is an active political theorist on the advisory board to ”The Latinx Project.”

The Latinx Project is an NYU project that describes itself as a “platform linking scholarship, media and activism.”

“Our use of Latinx indicates an openness to gender, sexual and racial inclusivity, while also paying attention to the multiple ways in which Latinx organize and forge community around nationality, race, ethnicity, gender…”

In 2016, Beltran, then positioned as the Associate Professor of Social and Cultural Analysis at NYU gave a lecture focusing on Donald Trump and Latino politics called, “When passion trumps: the Latino vote in 2016 and the Republican Melodrama of Loss.”

Beltran has also used Twitter to actively discuss “the intersection of Latino politics & political theory’,” and recently to discuss the coronavirus and its effect on people of color. Last week, Beltran tweeted “Essential workers are disproportionately people of color, immigrants, and women. If you want to do something about wage inequality- TRIPLE the pay of Essential Workers. #TripleTheirPay” 

In a 2004 paper, titled, “Patrolling Borders: Hybrids, Hierarchies and the Challenge of Mestizaje,” Beltran writes, “I argue that scholars are mistaken in their belief that ‘hybrid’ or ‘bordered’ identities are inherently transgressive or anti-essentialist.”

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During the event, panelist and English professor Simon Trujillo told students that despite popular belief, more people are leaving the U.S. for Mexico, not the other way around.  Trujillo is also writing a book titled “Land Uprising: Mystical Materialism and the Indigenous Reclamation of the Americas, La Alianza Federal de Mercedes,” focusing on “cultural production of the New Mexican land grant reclamation movement.”

In 2018 Trujillo gave a speech at NYU regarding “Native Story Power and the Study of Latinx Indigeneity.” The event was described as addressing “...the relationships between Indigenous land reclamation, modalities of Native storytelling, and the paradoxes of Latinx Indigeneity in New Mexico to reckon with our contemporary moment of mass precarity under intensified regimes of capital and global resurgences of fascism.” 

Trujillo has also participated in events as a member of the advisory board for literature with The Latinx Project. On March 12, “The Borderlands of Latinx Indigeneity: A Conversation with Simon Trujillo and Vick Quezada” addressed “Latinx indigeneity, representation, sexuality, and the politics of knowledge and activism.” 

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“From the coronavirus to immigration issues, to migrant issues, I was just interested in the different approaches people would bring to this topic. So here you have people from different departments from NYU- a very diverse panel,” said Global Studies Liberal Professor Karen Karbiener of the event.

NYU political science professor Christian Martin told Campus Reform that while the student paper, the Washington Square News, quoted him as referencing the European Union’s border management strategy as one that “hardens the border against people but opens it for capitalist goods and services,” during the panel, he meant to say that it opens “for capital, goods, and services.”

“I was talking about the EU after the Single European Act and that the expectations of a ‘fortress Europe’ did not materialize,” explained Martin. 

“However, immigration and refugee movements from outside the EU into the EU have become increasingly difficult,” he added.

Martin, a professor known for his studies in comparative politics and globalization has co-written a paper called “Voter attachment, room-to-maneuver, and the demise of Social Democracy,” which focuses on the decline of support in the West for Social Democratic parties. 

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @Jess_Custodio