Migrant Temporalities: Circulations and the temporal disjunction of migrant experience

Nishat Awan presented at the Mediating Presents Symposium

May 16th at 5:28pm

Goldsmiths, University of London, UK (16-17 May 2019) organised by Rebecca Coleman

It is now commonly understood that in many journeys of displacement, and especially those made by forced migrants, there is no direct route that can be traced from A to B. Deportation regimes and militarised borders keep people moving, what Khosravi terms circulation: ‘a controlled movement of people sent back and forth between undocumentedness and deportability: between countries, between laws, between institutions.’ (2018) As the Windrush scandal in the UK and the changing fate of the dreamers in the US has shown, the confluence of securitised borders and legal regimes produces illegality within racialised subjects. What type of time does such a life embody and how does it affect an understanding of displacement?

The presentation will focus on a new research project, Topological Atlas, that aims to produce visual counter-geographies of geo-political border regimes. I will present early research into the ways in which we are exploring the use of digital technologies of mapping and spatial analysis to account for this circulatory movement of people that is also an inhabitation of different temporalities. How might we encode such temporalities and experiences within digital space, while also being fully aware that migration and border securitisation regimes derive surplus value from the very conditions of precarity and movement that people are forced into. What role do opacity and temporality play in this and what does this tell us about ‘the present’ as it is constructed within digital space, but also in migrant experience?