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, contingent, and violent nature of the U.S. Southwest border with Mexico:
With the victory of the U.S. forces over the Mexican in the U.S.-Mexican war, los norte amierícanos pushed the Texas border down 100 miles, from el río Nueces to el río Grande.... The border fence that divides the Mexican people was born on February 2, 1848 with the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo. It left 100,000 Mexican citizens on this side, annexed by conquest along with the land.1 While this violent, hierarchical bordering that structures the U.S. Southwest borderlands, navigating, surviving, and resisting in the borderlands for Chicanas often requires the border-straddling technique Anzaldua calls “code-switching,” or being able to translate, adapt, and deploy multiple languages. 2 In Anzaldua’s alternative, oppositional cartography, code-switching means blending Mexican and Anglo language and culture into a “bastard language.” In the decades since the publication of Anzaluda’s book, the proliferation of digital technologies, and our increasing reliance on them for our economic, social, and cultural processes, has changed our understanding of code to include the “texts” that program the digital. Digital technologies and the codes/languages on which they rely, by being able to more clearly, robustly, and flexibly render maps and geographies visible and accessible than previous cartographic techniques, have also become central to how people experience borders. U.S. Every order of power assumes with it a
set of technologies, techniques, and relationships. Likewise, maps presuppose technologies and social formations. A standard political map, for instance, assumes the nation-citizen dyad (and excludes the
Anzaldúa, Borderlands: La Frontera, 29. Ibid., 20.
and fatally dangerous desert borderlands where immigrants cross. which had funded the project. It accomplishes this by displacing common approaches to the development of maps and software. information systems. The tool re-appropriates GPS technology and navigation by pointing the user to water. saw its development stalled in 2009. but also requires the policing of borders and the technology of the state in order to have any grounding in reality. In particular. citizens. It is a “walking tool” developed by the Electronic Disturbance Theater.3 However.“illegal” non-citizen). the tool represents. it centers its mapping around the conditions and needs of the border-crossing immigrant. and legislators displayed outrage at a tool. these codes. The navigation interface on the phone is not a traditional map. and performers. they contend.S.” For example. when anti-immigrant media. racist. gendering power structures.Desert Invasion U. a gesture toward a (de-colonial) navigation.” 6 Ibid. and art in a moment of danger.6 The investigation was dropped after finding no wrong-doing. welcoming the user with poetic sustenance.S. in the works since 2007. Instead of producing a commercial product for a general/moneyed audience. Border Patrol Is Using Video Games Technology to Help Keep Border Safe | Fox News. and the FBI opened a ten month long investigation and audit of Principal investigator Professor Ricardo Dominguez. and NGOs that stock life-saving water caches in the hot. or a map system to be used by state enforcement agencies.” 4 “The End of Cyberspace: Transborder Immigration Tool. coders.” as its point of departure. Customs and Border Protection and anti-immigrant vigilante groups have deployed policing technologies on the border that rely on digital technologies like Global Positioning System (GPS) devices. In any case.”. poets.” 5 “The Art of Crossing Borders: Migrant Rights and Academic Freedom « Boom: A Journal of California. aids and encourages illegal immigration. it re-imagines and decolonizes our understanding of maps. and development has resumed but it is unclear if it will ever see the light of day. can also be “switched. “U.5 The Electronic Disturbance Theater received a deluge of hate mail and death threats and UCSD.4 It is coded to read poetry by Amy Sara Carroll in order to give immigrants another kind of footing. technology. the Transborder Immigrant Tool is a GSP cellphone application unsettles common approaches to digital code. a compass rose with a floating arrow above it which points the walking user to the nearest water cache. . both in its intended use but also in the reaction it has elicited from antiimmigrants. 3 “Pictures of American Border Patrol UAV on Arizona Border . The tool. a group that includes academics. but rather a component of a map. and mobile digital technologies. while often leveraged by hierarchical. the tool de-centers the idea that maps are the only or the primary method of navigation and of finding one’s bearings. Electronic Disturbance Theater created the Transborder Immigrant Tool with marginal actors in mind. A “border disturbance” gesture. navigation. Taking Audre Lorde’s notion that “poetry is not a luxury. dry.