Microhistories of the "Funnel Effect": Tracing the banal materialities of U.S. border enforcement, 2000-present

Author(s): Gabriella Soto

Year: 2017


Nearly two decades have passed since the strategic border security paradigm known as "prevention through deterrence" took root in the landscape of Southern Arizona. The aim is to deter illicit migration by strategically amassing border security forces to funnel migrants into a treacherous landscape of increased risk. Thousands of undocumented migrants have died when confronting those risks in an outcome known as the "funnel effect." This paper draws upon dissertation research that studied the local and microhistories of the funnel effect using ethnoarchaeological methods and GIS technology. This work ultimately reveals the limits of state control of people and landscapes. Networks of migrants’ spiderwebbed clandestine trails exhibit a history of changing but repeat use, all while the state’s tools and spending to control the border have continued to amass. Similarly, one can trace the institutionalization of migrant "trash" clean-up by Arizona land managers, and the trend of migrants endeavoring to leave no material trace. Motivating this work are applied questions about the effectiveness of state-based aims to control the border, and theoretical questions pertaining to the role of contemporary archaeology to understand the banal material realities of state-based power in dialectical engagement with the collective effects of informal survival strategies.

Cite this Record

Microhistories of the "Funnel Effect": Tracing the banal materialities of U.S. border enforcement, 2000-present. Gabriella Soto. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 430188)

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Spatial Coverage

min long: -115.532; min lat: 30.676 ; max long: -102.349; max lat: 42.033 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 17492