[…] Borders are not lines on the map, they are an affective experience produced by our everyday movements, narratives and codes that simultaneously define our relations with the world. We tend to think of borders as legal administrative lines separating sovereign units. They are indeed lines, but not simply legal and administrative ones. And they are certainly not straight lines, but floating ones that could act as boundaries between life and death. For some, borders are everywhere. For others, they are imperceptible. That is why, as Achille Mbembe (2019, 99) suggests, it is necessary to talk about the process of ‘borderization’—how certain spaces are turned into ‘impassable places’ for certain people, while always being accessible to others.
This essay is about how, during the current public health crisis, certain bodies are turned into a border between life and death and how different practices of ‘borderization’ continue to operate to intensify global inequalities, racism and narcissistic celebration of established modes of politics and its economy of violence. My aim is to define the pandemic border from the perspective of those who experience it. I argue that the pandemic border, like all other borders, is not a static construction having a final form, but an affective experience. It changes our perception of time and space and is altered by those perceptions. It shapes our bodily experiences and is affected by our bodily movements. And, perhaps most importantly, the border determines who we are and is determined by our encounters with others. In the contemporary operation of biopolitical borders, COVID-19 operates as a political actor, as an ‘actant’, which is, as Bennett (2010, 9) reads it, ‘neither an object nor a subject, but as an ‘intervener’, or a ‘parasite’ (Serres, 2007), an intermediary, a mediator that causes disruption and a new system within the system. […]
Seeing the border as an affective experience, therefore, means understanding it as a ‘multiplicity of possibilities, rather than a closed system’ (Ozguc, 2020). Borders are not natural constructs. They are relational processes made up of affective bodies. Violent borders do not need to be the only choice we have. COVID-19 could act as a wake-up call for all of us that the necropolitics of contemporary borders is not working. It simply creates deathscapes for those excluded from the right to human security. […]
„An Essay on Pandemic Borders: From ‘Immunitary Dispositif’ to Affirmative Ethics“