Yumna Siddiqi is an associate professor of English at Middlebury College, where she specializes in postcolonial literature and theory, diaspora and migration studies, and literary theory. Her book Anxieties of Empire and the Fiction of Intrigue (Columbia University Press, 2008) explores the contradictions of postcolonial modernity in turn of the nineteenth and turn of the twentieth century fiction of detection and espionage. She has published articles on postcolonial literature and culture in Cultural Critique, Victorian Literature and Culture, Renaissance Drama, Alif, South Asia Research, and Textual Practice. Her current research is on postcolonial literature, migrants, and the city.


Borders and Anxieties of Empire

In its contemporary form, empire obsessively figures the terrorist and the migrant as threats, revealing its own political anxieties. In their book Empire, Hardt and Negri have argued for the need to think about empire in the late twentieth century as characterized by deterritorialized forms of sovereignty. As territorial and resource wars continue in the present era of empire, this emphasis on deterritorialization seems off the mark; instead it is more useful to think of “Empire” as a way of naming how power and sovereignty are re-territorialized in an age after formal decolonizaton. The operation of the border is crucial to this reterritorialization. This paper focuses on the border as a location, institution, and practice where contemporary anxieties of empire are concentrated. Focusing on recent theorizations of the border by Mezzadra and Nielsen, Achille Mbembe, Edward Casey and others, the paper explores how the border operates and is figured in some of the Refugee Tales, a collaborative and ongoing project that has yielded three volumes edited by Derek Herd and Anna Pincus, comprising stories told to writers by detainees and those touched by the detention regime in the UK.

Rohatyn Center for Global Affairs
Robert A. Jones 59 House
148 Hillcrest Road
Middlebury, VT 05753