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.”

Feet in 2 Worlds

Category : BRIEFLY NOTED 11/05/2009

Feet in 2 Worlds is a journalism project based in New York that trains and mentors immigrant journalists to cover their city. A collaboration of the Center for New York City Affairs at Milano The New School for Management and Urban Policy, a division of The New School, Feet in 2 Worlds has been broadcasting stories since 2005. Participating reporters contribute stories from all over the country. The homepage features an audio archive of many of the stories having been aired on public radio.

Needless Complexities in the Visa System Hinder Migration Management

Category : BRIEFLY NOTED 11/04/2009

This was written by David North, October 13, 2009 in the Center for Immigration studies‘ blog

One of the major sources of illegal immigration is the flow of persons into the U.S. with valid temporary visas who later (often quickly) drop out of legal status. Tourists (usually on B-1 visas) and foreign students (on either F-1 or J-1 visas) produce most of this type of illegal immigrants, the visa-abusers, often called visa-overstayers.

One of the reasons it is hard to control these flows relates to the proliferation of different visa classes (mostly demanded by lobbyists of one kind or another). Every time a new visa class is created by Congress, everyone handling visas — either in our overseas embassies or at our ports of entry — has to learn an additional set of rules regarding who may, and who may not, obtain and/or use this visa.

The current system is wildly complicated, as the following listing of visas illustrates:

A-1, A-2, A-3; B-1, B-2; C-1, C-2, C-3; E-1, E-2, E-3, EB-5; F-1, F-2, F-3; G-1, G-2, G-3, G-4, G-5, GT; H-1B, H-1-B1; H-1C, H-2A, H-2B, H-3, H-4; I-1; J-1, J-2; K-1, K-2, K-3, K-4; L-1, L-2; M-1, M-2, M-3; N-1, N-2, N-3, N-4, N-5, N-6, N-7; O-1, O-2, O-3; P-1, P-2, P-3, P-4; Q-1; R-1, R-2; S-1; T-1, T-2, T-3, T-4, TD, TN; V-1, V-2, V-3; WB, WT.

That listing, from Wikipedia, has a total of 69 subclasses organized around 21 larger classes identified by letters of the alphabet. The system is hard to follow because of differing definitions by different agencies; the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), whose staff at the ports of entry examine (if briefly) these documents has a different list of 69 subclasses organized around 20 letter classes; while the State Department has a third list of 29 subclasses (including many merged ones) and 24 letters. Each of the two longer lists has categories that the other longer list ignores (or defines away).

To give an example of the usual complexity of the system — and a contrast to it — let’s look at the visas available to diplomats and international organization employees on one hand, and international journalists on the other.

There are three classes of diplomatic visas, with A-1 being for ambassadors and other ranking people and their families, A-2, for lesser diplomats and their families, and A-3, for the servants of the first two classes. Then there are five classes (G-1 through G-5) for people working for international organizations, their families, and their servants. Then there are seven N classes for people connected with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Finally, DHS — but not Wikipedia — recognizes two more N class nonimmigrants, N-8 (parents of international organization special immigrants) and N-9, children of the same people. That’s 17 different categories for various kinds of diplomats and international organization employees, and their dependents.

Happily, foreign journalists, their families, and their servants are all lumped together in class I-1.

Some of these categories are rarely used. For example, statistics from the State Department’s Visa Office show that there was no usage, it is sad to say, in the years 2004-2008 of the S-1 visa for “informants possessing information on Criminal Activity or Terrorism.” Similarly, there is a special visa category (M-3) for people living in border regions of Canada or Mexico who want to attend, as commuters, vocational training schools, such as in hairdressing, in the U.S. That category had three users in 2007 and none in 2008.

There are a huge number of nonimmigrant visas issued annually; the total, according to the Visa Office, went from a little over 5,000,000 in 2004 to more than 6,600,000 in 2008.

Unless the business of issuing visas is to become a rubber-stamp activity, it would be helpful to severely condense and streamline the visa categories available to potential visitors to this country.

Exhibition: Status Report

Category : EVENT 10/05/2009


Status Report presented by the BRIC Rotunda Gallery (September 03 October 10, 2009) showed work by contemporary Mexican and Latino artists, highlighting the varied ways that artists have examined the themes of immigration, the U. S./Mexican border, and work. Exhibiting artists – based in Brooklyn and greater New York, the West Coast, and Mexico – included Margarita Cabrera, Sergio de la Torre and Vicky Funari, Christina Fernandez, Coco Fusco, Erika Harrsch, Pedro Lasch, Delilah Montoya, and Dulce Pinzón.

my favorite image is this one by Delilah Montoya “Humane Borders Water Station”, 2004. Archival Digital photographic print mounted on aluminum.

Remade in America

Category : BRIEFLY NOTED 06/04/2009

Screen Shot 2015-11-28 at 11.57.46 AM

another fantastic interactive map published by the NY Times. Remade America, a series about the newest immigrants and their impact on American institutions continues to impress with beautiful graphics and well researched stories.