This article examines how state practices around food contribute to the militarization of the migration experience. Specifically, I argue for more attention to the feeding practices of detention centers in particular, as the topic of food has been relatively absent from critical analyses of surveillance, detention, and deportation of unauthorized migrants. In the case of detention centers, depriving detainees of food is a primary mode of constructing detainee subjectivity. I present evidence of how detention systems both reinforce the logic of contemporary biopolitics by exacting discipline on migrant bodies through the provision of “border meals,” and extract value from detainees’ bodies in the form of profits for private industry. In looking to identify possible pathways toward change in this system, I suggest that there are problems with attempting to dismantle current detention practices by relying on a discourse that foregrounds detainees’ “trauma.” Instead, I argue that we may find migrants’ enacting resistance to the larger structures in which a system of detention in embedded through re-interpreting everyday expressions of affect.
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