Imaginings of Space in Immigration Law

Law, Culture and the Humanities, pp. 1-19, 2012

UC Berkeley Public Law Research Paper No. 2127446

20 Pages Posted: 10 Aug 2012 Last revised: 14 Sep 2012

See all articles by Leti Volpp

Leti Volpp

University of California, Berkeley - School of Law; University of California, Berkeley - Berkeley Center on Comparative Equality & Anti-Discrimination Law

Date Written: March 1, 2012

Abstract

The law of immigration rests upon the space of the nation-state and on how the movement of bodies in and out of that space is legally imagined. Whether formal legal doctrine recognizes a human body as inside or outside a nation’s territory is deeply consequential. Yet this formal doctrine presumes the nation-state to be a natural and innocent space absent of systems of domination. Case studies of concrete spatial locations demonstrate the social production of space. The case of a Danish reform coupling restrictions on forced marriage with a minimum habitat requirement indicates how space and immigration are produced in relation to gendered notions of race, linking the micro-space of the home with the macro-space of the homeland. The case of African Americans and poor relief in late eighteenth century Massachusetts, whereby immigrant origins were invented to evade town fiscal responsibility, shows how governmental space and immigration are produced as legal fictions. The commentary concludes with a discussion of cosmopolitanism’s yearning for an ethical place-lessness, and of the challenge posed to nation-state sovereignty and legal imaginings of space by noncitizens whom the state seeks to cast out.

Keywords: migration, space, illegality, sovereignty, property, trespass, home, homeland

Suggested Citation

Volpp, Leti, Imaginings of Space in Immigration Law (March 1, 2012). Law, Culture and the Humanities, pp. 1-19, 2012; UC Berkeley Public Law Research Paper No. 2127446. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2127446

Leti Volpp (Contact Author)

University of California, Berkeley - School of Law ( email )

215 Boalt Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720-7200
United States

University of California, Berkeley - Berkeley Center on Comparative Equality & Anti-Discrimination Law

Boalt Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720-7200
United States

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