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Award Winning Paper


Congratulations Amanda Heffernan, PhD Student, UNM College of Nursing.

Amanda won the Feminist Research Institute graduate student paper prize recognizing the advancement of feminist studies for her paper.


Pregnancy in United States Immigration Detention: The Gendered Necropolitics of Reproductive Oppression



Since Necropolitics (Mbembe, 2003) was published, feminist scholars and scholars of migration have grappled with necropolitical theory. Feminist theorists in particular have critiqued and elaborated on necropolitics with gendered analyses from a variety of contexts, including border zones (Estévez, 2013, 2017; Kwate & Threadcraft, 2017; Smith, 2016; Threadcraft, 2017; S. Valencia, 2018; Wright, 2011). This essay seeks to add to that work, taking the experience of pregnancy in United States immigration detention as a point of departure to explore the intersection of necropolitics, gender, reproduction, and migration at the Mexico-U.S. border. I will integrate necropolitical theory with concepts from the reproductive justice movement, including reproductive oppression (Gomez, 2015; L. Ross & Solinger, 2017), focusing on the migration experiences of people with the capacity to become pregnant. I argue that that the contexts migrants flee from and through on the way to the U.S. southern border, as well as the border zone itself, constitute gendered death worlds. U.S. immigration enforcement and detention also function as forms of gendered necropolitics. I will focus on the experience of pregnancy in immigration detention as a site of reproductive oppression and social death (Cacho, 2012), as well as a potential site of resistance.

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