Books for changing the world

Fortress Europe, Fortress USA: How Borders Work

Contemporary capitalism relies heavily on an inter-connected working class which extends across borders. Cross-border production and supply chains, logistics networks, and retail and service firms have aligned and fused a growing number of workers into one common class, regardless of where they happen to live. While money moves without restriction, the movement of displaced migrant workers across borders is restricted, punished—often violently so. And all of this is before imperial adventures and decades of neoliberal structural adjustment policies conspire to create the dire circumstances that lead to “refugee crises.”

In both the US and across Europe this context has been seized on and converted to political fodder by mainstream parties of the liberal and the reactionary varieties. While often flavored differently—from outright scapegoating of migrants to handwringing calls for ‘kinder-gentler’ deportation regimes—the growth and violence of the police state dedicated to the repression of transborder populations has proceeded unabated for decades.

Drawing on Justin Akers Chacón’s new book The Border Crossed Us, and Chloe Haralambous’s work with Sea-Watch, this Salvage Live event will look at the differences and similarities between Fortress USA and Fortress Europe, examine how to effectively dismantle their respective border regimes, and aim to explain how borders work (and for whom). The conversation will be hosted by Annie Olaloku-Teriba and Barnaby Raine.

This discussion will be part of the ongoing Salvage Live events series, hosted by Haymarket Books.


Justin Akers Chacón is an activist, labor unionist, and educator living in the San Diego-Tijuana border region. He is a Professor of Chicana/o History at San Diego City College. His most recent book is The Border Crossed Us: The Case for Opening the US-Mexico Border. He is also the author of No One is Illegal (with Mike Davis) and Radicals in the Barrio.

Chloe Haralambous is a member of Sea-Watch, participating in and coordinating maritime rescue missions in the Central Mediterranean migration corridor to Europe, and the co-founder of the Mosaik Support Center for Refugees and Locals on the Greek island of Lesvos. She is also a PhD candidate in comparative literature at Columbia University.

Annie Olaloku-Teriba is a writer and podcaster whose research focuses on how neoliberalism has transformed the theory and practice of ‘race.’

Barnaby Raine is writing his PhD at Columbia University on visions of ending capitalism. He teaches at the Brooklyn Institute for Social Research.