Gabriella Soto

Grant Type

Post PhD Research Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Arizona State U.

Grant number

Gr. 9796

Approve Date

April 29, 2019

Project Title

Soto, Gabriella, Arizona State U. "The Contradictions of In/security: Rescue Beacons in the South Texas Borderlands"

GABRIELLA SOTO, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona, was awarded funding in April 2019 to aid research on ‘The Contradictions of In/security: Rescue Beacons in the South Texas Borderlands.’ Based on collaborative action with a humanitarian NGO in south Texas, this project attends to the complexities of humanitarian action to prevent undocumented migrant deaths and care for those who die. By necessity, the NGO conducts its operations with tenuous permissions and the sometimes-reluctant cooperation of area property owners (in a landscape dominated by private property), the sheriff’s department and other county officials, and Border Patrol agents in a space where government actors claim that they too operate with parallel humanitarian intent. In particular, the NGO’s points of overlap with federal law enforcement opens a unique window for a critical comparative investigation of humanitarian concepts: what it means for an NGO to take on responsibilities of a state that validate the state’s claims to humanitarian intent, in a national security landscape when those rescued are also pursued for arrest, and as the state itself is implicated in creating the conditions from which migrants require rescuing. Yet, this space of uneasy collaborations also, as a matter of survival, fosters a sometimes-painful dynamism and spatial consciousness attentive to possibility for change in what can be a seemingly hopeless context.