Opinion, Voices

Beyond the wall: A Q&A with Wendy Brown

The political science professor has thought and written about walls and sovereignty for a long time

Wendy Brown
Wendy Brown (Photo via Wikimedia Commons)

Donald Trump’s televised speech last night, making his case for a wall at the Mexican border, surprised UC Berkeley political science professor Wendy Brown. 

As she told the Nation, she expected the president’s usual nationalistic hyperbole. But instead, “it was vaguely dignified,” Brown said. “Instead of the screaming rally speeches he’s delivered, it did something else. Trump was trying to avoid the hard nationalism that we know is in his heart and instead speak to an intuitive sense of, ‘of course you have to control the boundaries of your existence.’”

Brown, as the Nation writes, has been thinking about borders and boundaries long before Trump came into power. She is the author of Walled States, Walled Sovereignty (2010), which argues that walls around countries are a symptom not of increased state power, but of waning national sovereignty. The Nation calls the book a “a prescient look at the Trumpian rhetoric around border security, complete with images of walls from around the world.”

“Walls signify, inter alia, desires for containment and security,” wrote Brown, “responding especially to the powers that declining political sovereignty has unleashed.”

Nation writer Atossa Araxia Abrahamian reached Brown this morning, to talk about her latest thinking on walls, sovereignty and Trump. 

Read the full interview in the Nation