From the European South

a transdisciplinary journal of postcolonial humanities

Bodies as borders

Achille Mbembe


In this intervention Achille Mbembe reflects on the modalities of planetary living, interlacing what he calls three mega processes: early 21st-century corporate sovereignty, the computational speed regime, and the dialectics of entanglement and separation. In contrast to a certain fluidity of our contemporary age, Mbembe sees a logic of contraction, containment, incarceration and enclosure, whose result is the worldwide erection of all kinds of walls and fortifications, gates and enclaves as a way to manage risk,grant security, and safeguard ‘identity’. Such practices of partitioning of space, of offshoring and fencing off wealth, of splintering territories, of fragmenting spaces, are ‘borderizing’ bodies. As a result, borders are no longer merely lines of demarcation separating distinct sovereign entities. Increasingly, they are the name we should use to describe the organised violence that underpins both contemporary capitalism and our world order in general. The border is no longer just a particular point in space, but both a tech-nology and the moving body of undesired masses of population. Africa and Europe urgently need to confront each other over the issue of human mobility, a key dimension of the planetary shifts that are under way.


corporate sovereignty, computational, mobility, security, bodies, technology, borders



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