Today the national border wall is the highest symbol of American identity, freedom, and security. This lecture uncovers how walls and fences were the founding infrastructure of the United States that oriented and consolidated emergent ideas of race, racial hierarchies, and labor in the landscape, marking the spatial shifts of global capitalism. This social history confronts and contextualizes the current rallying cry to “Build that Wall!” in the United States and in the world.
Dr. Olivia Mena is a postdoctoral research associate in the African American Studies Department at Princeton University, and a faculty affiliate of African and African Diaspora Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. She is a postcolonial studies scholar who does interdisciplinary research on race and ethnicity in a global context. She received her Ph.D. in Sociology from the London School of Economics.