The American Studies Association (ASA) Rourke Prize Committee unanimously voted on López’s essay, "Sensing Intruders: Race and the Automation of Border Control," to be an exemplar of American Studies scholarship in its rigorous approach to a topic that is both timely, speaking to the current militarization of the U.S.-Mexico border, and rooted in nuanced historical and cultural inquiry, regarding our unique national moment of danger.

The committee was especially impressed with the essay’s diligent and thorough scholarship, creative applications of interdisciplinarity, and careful attention to deep contexts of science and technology between the mid-twentieth century and the present. The essay skilfully deploys technological history as part of the U.S. imperial story and explains how technologies developed for and through imperial warfare were redeployed for purposes of securitization and policing of national borders.

The award honors Constance M. Rourke, an influential scholar and educator who wrote widely in the fields of popular culture, humor, and cultural history. Rourke taught at Vassar College and was foundational in the development of American studies as an intellectual field. 

The Constance M. Rourke Prize is awarded annually to the best article published in American Quarterly that was written by a current member of the American Studies Association. The awardee receives $100.

Read the award-winning essay here:

Learn more about the Rourke Prize here: