Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Graduate Group


First Advisor

Adriana Petryna


Currently, states impose immigration policy through codifying, adjudicating and restricting kin relationships. In other words, restrictive immigration policies evaluate the closeness and legitimacy of kin relationships as a precondition to legal migration in the U.S. and across the globe. Such policies and their enforcement disaggregate closeness of kin, by separating relatedness from geographical proximity, material interdependence, and emotional bondedness. Family-related immigration manipulations, like these, subject the closeness of kin to technocratic scrutiny and enforce racially gendered and classed limits on the very forms of mobility that make kin closeness possible. As I will show, distance is never merely spatial, even when folded into or stretched across physical separations. This dissertation argues that making closeness-through-distance is a countervailing force against broader regimes that disassemble kinship ties. Using closeness-through-distance as a conceptual rubric, this dissertation traces the flow from moments of disassembly to tactics that mend and reformulate kin ties within the lives of migrants and their kin across place and scale. Not only do state processes of sorting close ties break some families, they also make others; they enhance the discursive, material, social and affective importance of a forged closeness within families. Kin groups adapt their lives in response to state scrutiny in order to make and maintain kindred ties. I engage with these labors as tactics of proximity and follow them analytically to relate state strategies for restricting mobility with intimate, often undocumented, tactics of reformulating proximities. The disaggregation of kinship, and the breakdown in ability to access closeness of kin that my interlocutors experience, is the intimate manifestation of political relations billed as reciprocal during key historical junctures (including Cold War era U.S. imperialist ventures and post-colonial reorganizations of the global world economy) but built to be decidedly non-reciprocal, extractive, necropolitical, and vulturine. Overall, this dissertation follows how closeness is institutionally and intimately reworked through these distancing state policies, and how kin under migration duress compose forms of closeness-through-distance.


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