A military base in Homestead, Florida—a southern suburb of Miami—is a crucial node in the War on Terror and a command center of the hemispheric War on Drugs. Soldiers from the base deploy to Iraq and Afghanistan, administer the detention camp at Guantánamo Bay, and embed as military advisors across Latin America. The base is bordered by a military Superfund site, contaminated with arsenic and benzene, and the largest detention camp for migrant and refugee children in the country, the Homestead Temporary Shelter for Unaccompanied Children. The suburbs surrounding the detention camp and the base are filled with ornamental plant nurseries worked by indigenous Maya asylum seekers and migrants fleeing the fallout of scorched earth counterinsurgency and ethnic genocide in the Guatemalan highlands. Through an “ethnography of spatial practices” (Bou Akar 2018), this paper takes up dilemmas and debates related to the toxic and embodied aftermaths of violence at the scale of the suburb. Based on sixteen months of ethnographic research with soldiers, indigenous Maya migrants and asylum seekers, city planners, and veterans of covert and paramilitary wars, I argue that attention to the suburban home illuminates the production and maintenance of a post-genocide chemical and spatial order in Homestead, one that differentially exposes migrant workers and detained indigenous children to environmental harm and injury (Puar 2015).
Emma Shaw Crane is a doctoral candidate in American Studies in the Department of Social & Cultural Analysis at New York University. Prior to her doctoral research, she was a Fulbright Fellow to the Medical Anthropology Working Group at the National University of Colombia in Bogotá and a Research Fellow at UC Berkeley’s Blum Center for Developing Economies. She is coeditor, with Ananya Roy, of Territories of Poverty: Rethinking North and South (University of Georgia Press, 2015). She received an interdisciplinary social science BA from UC Berkeley in 2009 and is an affiliated researcher with WeCount, a community organization of migrant agricultural workers in Homestead, Florida. She lives in Oakland, California.