Discussion on Borders
Duration: 00:25:59; Aspect Ratio: 1.333:1; Hue: 6.709; Saturation: 0.155; Lightness: 0.207; Volume: 0.083; Cuts per Minute: 1.578; Words per Minute: 124.657
Summary: Felix Stalder, Shuddhabrata Sengupta, David Lyon and Florian Schneider have a discussion on borders.
Felix Stalder talks of borders
So the IDs with the UN passports they cannot go back far (?) because they pass through Yugoslavia because they don't accept UN passports. They either.. either go through Italy, or they're flying, right? So, while each of them is affected differently by the border, the space they construct as the space of circulation between countries, where they go back and forth several times a year, a lot of very difficult routes and keeping in touch by reading the local newspaper, phoning on the internet, watching satellite television, so they construct a space that is somewhat above the border, and.. and the border just.. just happens to shape how you move through the space, but depending on your.. your conditions some borders are really important, others are not.
World Information City
David Lyon talks of development of subjectivities.
I.. I want to preface a.. a question back to you Florian, about the development of subjectivities of people who are in that kind of condition of wanting to cross borders for whatever reason.. just the way you said it made it sound as if, well, from your conversation with (indistinct) perhaps.. there was a sort of independent development of the subjectivity, whereas it seems to me, and here s the question, I d want to ask whether it, well, doesn t it depend on a whole network, not only of other people who are of the same background but also those who are on side of the border or the other as well? We in Kingston, Ontario, Canada, we currently have a 18 yr old young woman from Afghanistan who.. who lives in our home, and she s a student at the University where I teach, and some people from a refugee network in Toronto called a friend who asked somebody else whether there was somewhere she could go to University because she can't afford the kind of living cost for going to University. And so she came to lived.. she came to live in our home. And her story is.. well, she.. she came from Kabul, and her family was increasingly under huge pressure.. under the Taliban, she.. and she.. when she was five she witnessed her older brother being killed by a straight bullet, her older brother was six, being killed by a straight bullet that came from a fight in the street outside. Her parents and family moved a little later to Uzbekistan where she learned Russian, she already had Farsi but she'd also learnt Hindi from watching Bollywood movies, but that s another story... She then.. and then her family showed up, as.. asking for political asylum in Toronto, and.. and that was the sort of background story of how she got to us. And certainly she, I mean, as I say she d only just turned 18, but she strikes me exactly as someone in that case who is developing subjectivities and an.. and an identity that relates to all those backgrounds, but where she has come to is dependent on a whole network of.. of others who have, as it were, supported the move. So, that s the background to my question.
Does this work? Yeah.
I think you re absolutely right. It s a tremendous networks that are involved on both sides of the border. This is wh.. why we usually refer to autonomy of migration, which means there.. there.. there's a community in the country of origin and a community in country of.. of where you go to. And lots of community on the way which are passed by. It s interesting, for example I.. I read in the news a few lines recently that this 150 people who were deported from X what you just saw on.. on the video. The Spanish police managed to make the Moroccans deport 150 people. So what the Moroccans did is they sent.. they let.. they drop them off in the middle in the Sahara without water, without food or anything. food and whatever. What happened is that the Polisario, this old guerilla group from the 70s and 80s which is fighting in the south of Morocco against the Moroccan government was picking up these refugees and hosted them in.. in.. in their nomad communities. Just as a.. very little.. this reveals that there is an increasingly complex process of networking is necessary in order to cross the border. And I think this is an.. this can be the.. the.. the foundation or the starting point of thinking about immigration or refugees or immigrants or border crosses in a completely different way. And also I'm totally aware.. we should not romanticize this. I mean, this is not this kind of business nomad new global elite, roaming around completely ruthless, no locations, whatever this blah blah that we know from the advertisements and corporate propaganda. So, the.. I think this needs research.. serious research. That has to be done.
Florian Schneider talks of the process of networking in crossing borders.
Because, so many.. even if we look at languages in India, they re clearly the result of the intersections of nomadic journeys, and it.. nowadays the border becomes a visible reality to us because the world has so many borders. But a hundred and fifty or two hundred years ago, or even perhaps three generations ago, it.. the movement from let's say Eastern Iran to India and back and forth to Turkey would have been a regular feature of life. It's.. it would have been the normal, rather than the abnormal condition of living for people to be making these movements without feeling in any way that they were ruthless, or that they were actually inhabiting some kind of universe outside the fabric of what material life meant for them.
And I think that s quite fascinating, because on the one hand you do have movements that are created through force, so obviously the movement of people from Africa to.. to.. to America as slaves, or the Irish from conditions of famine from Ireland to the rest of the world, or poorer German peasants from Southern Germany to America and South America, or indentured workers.. indentured labourers from India to the Caribbean and elsewhere obviously created a different dynamic of movement, but even those are constituted as a part of the fabric of making the world. You know, I've been very fascinated by the idea that if we can think of globalization as a kind of.. of the kind of corporate globalisation is, a force coming from above to shape and flatten the world, then there is also another geography of the world and another way of knowing the world that can be written from.. from below or from aside that constitutes the world with every act of life. And perhaps the whole idea of every person being an expert or every person being a knowledgeable person in the world, carrying their own, you know, baggage of knowledge as they move around is quite an important way of thinking against the kind of the.. the impulse to know that classifies and dominates us all the time.
Perhaps your work you know in some ways speaks to that idea and you could.. I m asking you for instance whether even the no one is illegal campaign or the no borders camps or any of the specific process and manifestations you ve been involved with that you could talk a little bit about as representatives of this kind of counter knowledge.
Question about the representatives of counter knowledge.
It's kind of difficult to choose now.
I mean, there is.. These are very different approaches and also in very different kind of configurations. We started for example the no one is illegal campaign in the context of a big art exhibition back in 97 and the idea.. the idea was.. was to use or misuse the museum space in order to set up a temporary campaign office that is then the starting point for a campaign that remains completely virtual in so far as there is no office or address or whatever but the whole campaign is happening somehow completely through mailing lists, websites, on the internet and so on which then enable a lot of people to speak clearly and speak in plain text about things they were doing anyway but couldn t really refer to it properly because it was very much about hosting illegalized immigrants or bringing people across the border and so on and so on..
So, the.. I think it was.. all these campaigns they had.. if there's something they had in common, it was a certain act of appropriation of a certain space or technology. The deportation class campaign, also some people here in the room participated, for me was an incredible example for.. a success story. The idea was that after years of struggling against deportations of asylum seekers who got their permission.. residency rights denied and were deported, I think currently it s still something like 30,000 people from Germany, 40,000 people from Britain at the moment, and we started a campaign that was basically spoiling or polluting the image of the German airline company Lufthansa by announcing they have something.. they would have something like a deportation class now where you could actually book cheap flights all over the globe. This campaign turned out to be extremely successful because we were able to also spread knowledge of how to get out of the planes or how to blackmail the.. the.. the.. people working in the foreign administrations in order to prevent deportation. I mean, in the end Lufthansa somehow agreed to the basic demands of this.. of this campaign one year ago, not to deport, or not to transport any person against their will.
The Everyone is an expert campaign is a very specific example I think where the idea was to struggle against this very.. this function of the border that it annihilates or completely eradicates every subjectivity, so a professor as soon as he or she crosses the border illegally or without the necessary paper becomes a.. a cleaner or a janitor. So the.. the function of the border is also to.. to.. to deny that people have a certain experience, skills, education, professional career and so on in order to treat them as.. what to.. to over.. over exploit them on the labour market. So the idea of the project everyone was an expert was to focus on the skills and the experiences of people.
Schneider talks of different campaigns
Everyone is an expert
No one is illegal
Since we're running short of time, I'd like to now open the floor very briefly for any questions, comments and discussion from the audience. There's one hand at the back, immediately, and another one right there.
Shuddha opens the discussion to the audience.
I'd like to know what he thinks about the violence in Paris.
..and the state of exemption, in Paris, yeah, is if the work was really to (indistinct) I'm certainly not the right person to answer this, I haven't been in Paris in the last 2 months. And, I think it's certainly an extremely.. an extremely complicated issue. The only thing I experience is that I'm completely disappointed by the French left, especially after this very strange no to the EU constitution.
My question is in the context of the proceedings of the day. What I see is that there is a major divide, that is the post 9/11. And post-9/11 has introduced a new category of understanding of human beings as such, that is the good citizen, and the rogue. The good citizen and the rogue. The rogue and the rogue states. Now you see a major division or if you want to call it borders. You see a border evolving in terms of moral categories: The good and the bad. My question is in this context. What is the basis on which rogue and good is defined, that's one. And second, I see very clearly the borders absolutely getting evapora.. evaporated, or no borders, when it comes to, look at Bangalore. The IT industry, the information industries which has completely removed the native.. the natives from their existence, and I'm sure that this particular conference has taken people to the Whitefield area, and the traditional industry was the (indistinct) industry. Today the entire agrarian folks are wiped out of that place. In that sense, creation of good citizen, a global citizen, replacing the native. Does this.. this another area I would like the panel to reflect on. And, the third thing, I really begin to feel that there is a de-politicization, or de-democratisation, in the sense, today state exists as corporate entities. Manmohan Singh is a classic example. In sense, State exists only in its form, and it completely denies every legitimate rights of the citizen, and this has been enabled by I would say the global IT, information technology. I would like your comment on the status of nation in that sense. One more question is that one also sees the border question when it comes to indust.. international negotiations. A clear case is Iraq, a classic example. Afghanistan before, now North Korea, Syria in the context of Syria-Lebanon issue. So, on the one hand, a border is a complete negation of citizens wherever, ordinary citizens, and on the other hand broadly speaking, you see a complete takeover of the global resources. I would like your comments on that.
Ok, about Paris then, fits.. fits here. Probably then, we can go on later, but what I briefly want to mention in the context of the borders, because also the conflict of the..the media story is that there's Paris in the centre and the bolieres that.. where the riots are going on and where the amount of violence that is stunning for those people who watch it, the.. how.. how these outskirts of Paris are separated by the city not so much by - even though that's the media's story, by racial difference, by ethnic, religious conflict and such and such and such. If you go to the Boliere you will see not even the demographics that are so extremely different from certain parts inside the city, but there's border regimes in place. There's.. the fact that certain communities in these areas around Paris, obviously poorer communities, obviously higher percentage of even though French immigrants of the second or third generation, that these communities are isolated not because of them trying to preserve their cultural identities against the.. the ideals of the French nation or something, but by very precise measurements and.. and.. and methods of controlling people's movements. If you go to the bolieres and see, you will see on certain bus lines that connect these bolieres, there will be no more buses on the weekend. Two weeks ago when I went to Charles de Gaulle airport in the north of Paris that is directly in that zone, when the train would stop in one of these places that were all over the news the days before people would look and (French speaking) which is a very peaceful, interesting place and it's.. it's.. it was a really good time to go there and talk to people.
But then, two weeks later, when I went to the airport the next time the train wouldn't even stop there anymore. All the Metro lines that are going out of the city, or some of them in the north-east of Paris, they have now put up signs 'closed for repair work', that stunningly spends exactly the weekend when no demonstrations are allowed in Paris, stunningly these new.. new stations where the.. there are now the terminus where the Metro ends are now surrounded by police cordons, and I think it's very interesting, and then on the (indistinct) and that's what I'm going to close with. What I think the French left is so paralyzed by is that fact that with the uprising in the bolieres also the political centre has shifted. These protests also on a political level can no longer be centralized, represented, brought back, organized in a very.. the organization is different. And that's what probably links this problem to these border situations. The situation there is not so bad. And a lot of these border activities that have been talked about, they are also about finding ways to enjoy the border, celebrate the border, dance around the border and subvert the border. You have to live there. On the one side, on the other side and through it.
Charles de Gaulle Airport, Paris
Man on floor responds to question on riots in Paris, and about subverting borders.
Would you like to respond to that gentleman's question?
Felix Stalder talks of Europe's fear of translocality.
Maybe the question about the nation-state and the border, and connect that to what Sebastian and Florian have said about the.. the left and their absence in the discourse around these riots. It strikes me that.. that Europe is terrified, this is much more the case in Europe than in US or in Canada, Europe is terrified by this translocality. There.. there is a kind of a kinetic elite, we've talked about that, and there is a positive and negative vision of that. So there's a certain discourse about it, is it good or is it bad, and.. and but.. they have very strong opinions on that, on both sides.
On the other hand, the same kind of translocality is happening on a migrant level, often supported by the same kind of technological infrastructure: cellphones, internet accounts, flights and these kind of things. But there, there's a complete lack of any positive vision. The best the left does is be silent and completely leave it out to the right. So there's this deep scare or this deep fear about translocality that.. that relates to European history that is so much about territory and unified territory and national languages and all of that. But for the translocality of migrants there is just no positive vision whatsoever, at least in the public discourse.
David Lyon talks of the push and pull aspect of borders being a filter.
Well, only to underline one or two of the things that Florian was saying that I think already answered the question about the border being a filter, it seems to me that that's a crucial.. a crucial aspect of what we're talking about and the refugee and the movement of people who didn't necessarily want to move is always a push and pull question. It's not merely that they are ejected or pushed out of where they are, it's frequently also the case that there are pull factors and the pull factors in a world that is dominated by forms of global capitalism is that the rich countries desperately need labour of very specific kinds, and as they get more picky they turn the border into precisely the filter for expressing that partiality for certain groups and excluding others.
So I think yeah, I think it's crucial to answer that.. start answering that question in terms of the filtering action of the border.
I think there are.. there is a whole lot of connections, links and nettings between the discourse about information technology and migration, and one for example, I just want to.. to conclude this, is the.. the boom in the new economy in the West Coast of the United States has been clearly only been possible by the overexploitation of illegalised immigrant workforce. You can see.. if you.. if you analyse the.. the statistical figures here, it's absolutely clear when you see, when the wages were dropping for example for janitors to clean a office building from something like ten dollars in average in '85 to something like three or four dollars in the mid '90s. So there is an immense.. immense and very important connection between these two topics.
Schneider speaks of the connection between the boom in information technology and migration.