Our COMP-CAN Colloquium hosts Prof. Emily Gade (Emory University) for a lecture titled, “Building the State.”
State use of internal fortifications as mechanisms of power projection, subjugation, and social control remains remarkably unchanged. Internal fortifications warrant particular scholarly attention because they create ideal conditions for state agents to violate the most basic rights of their own citizens. Where internal fortifications are built, they often fail to resolve—indeed, they often exacerbate—security issues. While political scientists have given short shrift to within-state fortifications, studies of other fortifications—like border walls—suggest that military necessity is neither their sole design nor primary consequence. Rather, governments use fortifications strategically to construct the texture of exclusion. I suggest states build internal fortifications in response to the groups and movements most significantly challenging the idea of the state herself–i.e., the existing political order. Internal fortifications (e.g. walls, checkpoints, closure obstacles, guard towers, and detention facilities) are the apparatus of state surveillance, discipline, and punishment. Their presence visualizes and disseminates the threat of state violence into the fabric of daily public and private life. Where fortifications are built, they are among the most common means by which civilians interact with state violence, which in turn shapes how civilians conceive of and resist the state itself. If internal fortifications enable a security policy that can violate more rights of citizens, the policy rationale for where and how they are built is deserving of scholars’ scrutiny.