UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Everyday experiences of national security on the Olympic Peninsula Barrick, Leigh Christine


The United States-Canada political boundary has long been praised as the most extensive peaceful international border in the world. However, this reputation has shifted considerably in recent years. The US has strengthened its northern border security infrastructure at and between ports of entry, hiring new enforcement personnel and upgrading technology to respond to potential threats emerging from Canada. I analyze this change of United States policy and practice by focusing on one US borderland context: northwestern Washington’s Olympic Peninsula. My analysis is driven by the following questions: (1) how do security tactics respond to specific cross-border threats; and (2) why are some Olympic Peninsula residents contesting securitization? In working through these questions, my objective is to foreground everyday enforcement encounters as constitutive of geopolitics – in other words, to identify how the people and places of the peninsula both impact and are impacted by border practices. I argue that national security tactics make borderland residents on the Olympic Peninsula insecure. More specifically, border policing practices carried out in remote inland areas make both law enforcement officers and peninsula residents targeted for policing feel unsafe, without clearly responding to precise cross-border threats. In response, grassroots groups have organized, questioning the relationship between the mission and everyday practices of the United States Border Patrol in rural areas of the US northern border. Analytically, I draw from materially-grounded feminist theory, basing my argument on two conceptual points of departure – first, that security is embodied; and second, that inequalities are interconnected. Drawing insights from the contestations to securitization on the peninsula, I conclude with a consideration of how national security tactics could be more accountable to the wellbeing of borderland residents.

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