Stateless space conjures images of Martian land grabs and unclaimed oceanic outposts. However, a more home-grown version has been evolving along modern nation-state borders. Every troop deployment, immigration policy advance or triple-layer fence construction re-partitions border space into new, buffered zones of potential statelessness. These zones are a dimensional expression of the inability of governments to truly control their cartographically defined territory. It is one of the great paradoxes of the satellite era—current technological capabilities allow a kind of omnipresence in all state space, but their on-the-ground enforcement disallows citizens from actually accessing these zones. Several examples along the U.S./Mexico border illustrate the rise of these new zones of statelessness and how they pose the potential to undermine environmental and ethical codes.
Supported by the Charles Eliot Traveling Fellowship from Harvard GSD.