Anthony Wayne Fontes

Grant Type

Post PhD Research Grant

Institutional Affiliation

American U.

Grant number

Gr. 10461

Approve Date

April 6, 2023

Project Title

Fontes, Anthony (American U.) "No Escape From the Criminal State: Transnational Criminal Governance and the Making of Asylum-seeker Subjects"

Powerful state-criminal networks set the terms of security in Guatemalan society, and their violence sends many people migrating to the United States. But deep doubt and confusion about the meaning and consequences of this violence permeates their search for safety. In response, I ask: How do complex and blurred combinations of state-criminal collusion govern Guatemalan asylum seekers, and to what effect? Through multi-sited ethnography with Guatemalan migrants and their communities in the Washington DC Area (DMV) and Guatemala, this project will explore the struggle for survival and sanctuary when the state is criminal’or appears as such’and criminals copycat the state. Crucially, I conceptualize Guatemalan criminal governance networks and the US immigration apparatus (among other US institutions) as essential nodes in a transnational criminal governance assemblage through which (il)licit power in Central America and the United States conjoin to ‘discipline’ displaced subjects. My aim is to elucidate how such terror and doubt sends people running, sets the terms of their acceptance in the United States, and penetrates their daily lives long after they have ‘escaped’ by re-thinking the subject-making technologies of transnational criminal governance shaping Guatemalans’ search for sanctuary.