Documenting the Spatial Practices of Global Migration


Category : BRIEFLY NOTED, READING LIST 01/12/2010

Wolfgang Scheppe & the IUAV Class on Politics of Representation: Migropolis: Venice / Atlas of a Global Situation
published by Hatje Cantz, 2009

Migropolis is a new publication of 3 years of research by Wolfgang Scheppe and the class on politics of representation at the University Iuav of Venice. The work out of the two volumes was exhibited in the fall of 2009 in the Galleria Piazza San Marco.

Thanks to a tip by Mathias Boettger and Jennifer, I took a look at this 1400 pages strong picture book. Yes, it’s a picture book with lots of pictures, some beautiful mappings and a few interviews and Wolfgand Scheppe in his epilogue is happy to admit that. Not without asking the questions: Is image evidence? is the map territory? Is conflict quantitative? Being interested in the visual representation of urban spaces and migration, I find these questions very relevant for our thinking about this project. here is a quote from the accompanying website that explains the project.

“In winter 2006, under the aegis of philosopher Wolfgang Scheppe, a collective of students from the IUAV University in Venice fanned out to subject their city to a process of forensic structural mapping. Out of this field work, conducted in the Situationist tradition, there developed a three-year urban project that produced an enormous archive comprising tens of thousands of photographs, case studies, movement profiles, and statistic data. In this archive, Venice, the place of longing at the junction of three migration corridors, emerges as a front-line European city and an exemplary prototype of the increasingly globalized city in which a decimated inner-city population meets armies of tourists and a parallel economy supported by illegal immigrants.”
migropolis cover
In a map branching out into essays, visual arguments, data visualizations, and interviews, the globalized territory of Venice is microscopically dissected and defined as an urban metaphor: the city becomes an “atlas of a global situation.” The results of this 3 year study can be found in the publication.



“Migropolis draws to a conclusion at a decisive moment for Italian immigration politics. On July 2, 2009 the Italian Senate approved a law on public safety that groups together illegal immigration and organized crime. This new legislation instigates mass delation and prompts a hunt for foreigners through the institutionalization of the ronde, a new system of voluntary citizen-patrollers who are charged with watching over public order. It also forbids those without residency permits from marrying Italian citizens, or recognizing their own children. Consequently, the simplistic equation of the illegal immigrant to the common criminal quickly enters popular imagination: those who are born elsewhere are presumed guilty. By law, any public sector employee who suspects an immigrant’s status as illegal must report him or her. Likewise, whoever rents a house to an illegal immigrant or otherwise facilitates illegal immigration is liable to prosecution. Due to the governmental presence of the Lega Nord, the fight against immigration has been at the heart of this government’s political activity; the new legistlation is its crowning achievement in this context.”


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