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Environment, Space, Place

Volume 2, Issue 1, Spring 2010

Tracey Nicholls
Pages 17-34
DOI: 10.7761/ESP.2.1.17

Crossing into Lawlessness
Thoughts on Airplane Travel and State Power

This article examines the post-9/11 policing of points of entry and transfer at US airports and the ways these points become “forbidden places” to those deemed undesirable, in order to expose the ambiguity of forbiddenness with respect to place. It uses Michel Foucault’s theory of biopolitics to argue that the War on Terror has created a class of expendable non-persons whose legal identities (citizenships) are not acknowledged and Giorgio Agamben’s analysis of “the camp” as a metaphor for the spaces in airports that are neither entirely inside nor outside a national jurisdiction. This discussion takes place, in part, through the case study of suspected terrorist Maher Arar, arguing that his case shows the displacement of our sense of prohibition, away from spaces and onto persons.

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