Leniqueca A. Welcome

Award Information

2018 IDRF Program

AnthropologyUniversity of Pennsylvania

Life as Threat: The Transnational Securitization of Place and Subjectivity in Trinidad and Tobago

In May, 2017, Al Jazeera named Trinidad and Tobago the largest per capita exporter of fighters to the Islamic State in the western hemisphere, and tied jihadists to local gangs within urban communities. This marked the entry of Trinidadian urban enclaves into the ever-expanding field of violent dangers defined and governed by the US security state. With the expansion of this field, new people and places around the world are co-constituted: they are produced as the very threats to be managed. As the production of threat reveals itself as an overlapping project of population management and exclusion, rather than singularly a "war on terror," this research asks: what does it mean to be produced as a threat and how does it feel to live as one? To explore this question, this project will examine media discourse, built landscapes, social relationships, and imaginations of alternative futures during 18 months of fieldwork with residents of East Port of Spain, Trinidad—one of the places within Trinidad marked as the locus of national and global insecurity. This research asks: how are place and people co-constitutively produced as threat through media discourse, and what are the effects of such productions on those represented? How is threat mapped onto the landscape and how are residents' social relations and selves shaped in concert with place? How do people come to define their lives in ways that contest and exceed their production as threat? Ultimately, this project will interrogate the spatialization and embodiment of the discourses and practices of security. By doing so, it seeks to understand the everyday lived experience of those designated undeserving of security by virtue of being categorized as the locus of insecurity.