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Echoes off the concrete and razor wire: ‘globalised fences’ as communicative sites of struggle

Feigenbaum, Anna (2008) Echoes off the concrete and razor wire: ‘globalised fences’ as communicative sites of struggle. In: Media@LSE Fifth Anniversary Conference: Media, Communication and Humanity, 2008-09-21 - 2008-09-23, London School of Economics and Political Science, London, United Kingdom. (Submitted)

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Numerous scholars and journalists have argued that fences—both material and symbolic—often act as markers for the injustices of globalisation. While capital, development projects and private security firms now move freely between nations, people are increasingly contained within or behind fences—in detention centres, at militarized borders and in ghettoized geographical enclosures. At the same time, fences are used to protect the mobile neo-fortresses erected for G8 summits, FTAA, WTO and SPP meetings. In this paper I outline the transdisciplinary methodology I am developing for a large-scale study of ‘globalised fences’ as communicative and heavily mediated sites of struggle. First, I argue that it is productive to think of particular fences as ‘globalised.’ I construct this category to bring together a diversity of fences that share similar attributes, namely, they serve transnational security functions, are contracted through multinational construction and telecommunications companies and are built with materials imported from different nations. These ‘globalised fences’ include: the separation wall in Israel/Palestine, the U.S./Mexico border, those surrounding immigration detention centres and the fences fortifying the temporary sites of global superpower gatherings. I then propose that every fence contains the possibility for a malfunction in its security system (whether human or non-human) along with an ever present permeability (structurally the fence itself has cracks/wires/holes/writable surfaces). Together these features constitute an inherent failure, an always incomplete security. I argue that the possibility to breach, trespass, damage, destroy and structurally transform the fence emerge from this failure. These acts are, at least in part, communicative practices that utilise and create dynamic symbols, meanings and methods of resistance at local and global levels. Finally, this paper examines a few selected instances of protest at the sites of globalised fences. Here I look at alternative and mainstream journalistic accounts of these struggles that involve questions of land rights, freedom of movement and freedom of protest. I argue that just as the steel, microchips and blueprints for these fences travel across borders, so too do the stories of struggle against them. Paper prepared for the Fifth Anniversary Conference of the Department of Media and Communications, ‘Media, Communication & Humanity’, London School of Economics and Political Science, London, 21-23 September 2008.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2008 Anna Feigenbaum
Divisions: Media and Communications
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN1990 Broadcasting
Date Deposited: 07 Oct 2008 08:29
Last Modified: 15 Sep 2023 08:24

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