Superfluous Lives: Undocumented Migrants Traveling in Mexico

Javier Trevino-Rangel

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Undocumented migrants in transit in Mexico are victims of atrocity: kidnapping, disappearances, sexual violence, killings. The subject, however, has been largely ignored by scholars. Recently, a number of migration experts became interested in the matter. Most observers argue that abuses suffered by migrants are the consequence of the “securitization” of Mexican immigration policy. For them, Mexican authorities perceive migrants from Central America as a threat to national security and hence have hardened laws and migratory practices as a result. However, there is insufficient evidence to support these claims. This article shows that, in the context of the war on drugs, migrants are not victims of atrocious acts as a result of migratory policies that have been, supposedly, securitized. It seems rather that what we are witnessing is a process of dehumanization, in which the lives of migrants are considered to be dispensable, but usable to generate some kind of satisfaction: sexual or monetary, for example. To use Hannah Arendt’s concept, their life has become “superfluous” (Arendt 1968).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMexico’s Human Rights Crisis
EditorsAlejandro Anaya-Muñoz, Barbara Frey
Place of PublicationPhiladelphia
PublisherUniversity of Pennsylvania Press
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9780812295719
ISBN (Print)9780812251074
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes


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