Palestine Israel : Spatial Relationality and the Fallacies of Methodological Nationalism

Thursday December 17th 2020
From 10 am to 12 am

In order to obtain the link to attend the conference, please contact cedric.parizot [at]

Theorizing Urban Space and Binational Sociality in Jewish-Arab “Mixed Towns”

Daniel Monterescu, Associate Professor of urban anthropology at the Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology, Central European University, IMéRA (Aix Marseille university)

This presentation develops the analytic vocabulary needed to examine how urban space, Jewish-Arab sociality and local/national identities have been both represented and produced in ethnically mixed towns since the establishment of the state of Israel to the present. A bi-national borderland in which Arabs and Jews live together, these cities bring to the fore, on the one hand, the paradox of Palestinian citizens in a fundamentally Jewish state, while simultaneously suggesting, by the very spatial and social realization of “mixed-ness,” the potential imaginary of its solution. Through ethnographic and historical research centered in Jaffa, the argument posits mixed towns as a political and theoretical challenge to the hegemonic ethno-nationalist guiding principles of the Israeli state, which fails to maintain homogeneous, segregated and ethnically-stable spaces. This failure, I argue, results in the parallel existence of heteronomous spaces in these towns, which operate through multiple and often contradictory logics of space, class and nation. Analyzed relationally, these spaces produce peculiar forms of quotidian social relations between Palestinians and Israelis, enacting circumstantial coalitions and local identities that challenge both Palestinian and Jewish nationalisms. Overcoming the limitations of methodological nationalism, which can only describe such spaces as historical anomalies, the paper outlines the contours of a dialectic theory of socio-spatial relations in contested cities.

Organization: Julien Loiseau, historian (IREMAM, CNRS/Aix Marseille University) et Cédric Parizot anthropologist (IREMAM, CNRS/Aix Marseille University)

The Hidden Life of an Amazon User

A project by Joana Moll, 2019

The Hidden Life of an Amazon User reveals the hidden economic and environmental costs offloaded to, and unwittingly paid for, by the end-user. The Hidden Life of an Amazon User confronts us with the environmental footprint instigated by purchasing a book on 87.33Mb of data is activated to navigate through 12 different interfaces—1307 different requests totaling 8724 pages of printed code—all used for continuously tracking customer behavior to amplify the monetization of the end-user and increase business revenues. To put it bluntly, the user is not just exploited by means of their free labor but is also forced to assume the energy costs of such exploitation.
The project includes three commissioned texts by Jussi Parikka, Jara Rocha and Christian Ulrik Andersen & Søren Bro Pold, available on the projects’ website.

Visit the project:

This work was realized within the framework of the European Media Art Platforms EMARE program at IMPAKT with the support of the Creative Europe Culture Programme of the European Union.

Other works of Joana Mol

Virtual Watchers, 2016
AZ: Move and get shot, 2012
Texas Border, 2011

Image: Joana Mol, 2019

Chronicles at the Border

Chroniques à la frontière (Chronicles at the border) is a 30 minutes solo performance, a theatrical and juggling ticket, a scenic blog. At the crossroads of juggling, clowning and political science, it questions the ways we think, decipher and represent the transformations of borders in the 21st century.

This experiment is the first collaboration attempted by Vincent Berhault and Cédric Parizot. It has been implemented in Aix en Provence, with the support of the International Center for the Arts in Movement (CIAM). The aim was to prepare an art-science piece for the opening of the exhibition/conference Coding and Decoding the Borders at the Brussels School of Architecture.

Conceived as a critical artistic apparatus (dispositif), the preparation of the piece opened a space and time for collaboration between an artist and an anthropologist to put to test modes of communication and ways of writing that are not recognized as legitimate in their respective fields. Hence, Chroniques à la frontière reflects on modes of transmission of knowledge. On stage, through a strange manipulation of objects and concepts, while relying on an autobiographical narrative, an offbeat character oscillates between the conference mode and the confidential mode. Vincent Berhault speaks and plays with objects, materials as varied as sheets of paper, jackets or plastic bags. Chroniques à la frontière questions the impact that scholarly concepts can have when carried by an artistic performance involving the body and dexterity of the gesture.

Stimulated by this first attempt, Vincent Berhault and Cédric Parizot intend to continue their collaboration. In 2016-2017, the artist invited the anthropologist to participate into the writing of a play at the cross road of circus and theatre, Entre. In 2018, they plan to continue this collaboration and create additionnal “small art-science objects”.


Point H^UT, lieu de création urbaine, Saint-Pierre-des-Corps, 11 of March 2016
Maison des jonglages, La Courneuve, 29 of April 2016
Festival Jours [et nuits], Centre international des arts du mouvement, Aix en Provence, 23 of Septembre 2017
University of Bern, Switzerland, 8 march 2018
Maison Méditerranéenne des sciences de l’Homme, Aix en Provence, 28 may 2018
Institut d’études avancées d’Aix Marseille université, Marseille, 5 june 2018
MUCEM, auditorium, 29 septembre 2018
Théâtre de l’Echangeur, 20 octobre 2018
Festival du jeu de l’oie, MUCEM, 21 june 2019


Centre International des Arts du Mouvement
Institut de recherche et d’études sur les mondes arabes et musulmans (UMR7310, Aix Marseille Université, CNRS)
Institut d’études avancées d’Aix Marseille Université

Entre, A Circus Heterography

Next Performance

Théâtre de l’Echangeur, 16-20 October 2018

From circus to research

Entre is a project of artistic creation halfway between circus, theater and anthropology. It sets up an art-science apparatus whose purpose is to explore alternative forms of writing that can offer live performance and including circus to social science research.

This project was initiated by Vincent Berhault, juggler, author and director of the company Les Singuliers. It relies on a collaborative writing, on the stage, that closely associated the performers (Barthélémy Goutet, Benjamin Colin, Grégory Kamoun, Toma Roche and Xavier Kim) and Cedric Parizot (anthropologist).

An alternative form of writing

Hence, Entre proposes another form of writing, at the crossroads of an artistic creation and research. Body and movement languages ​​are associated with verbal communication, not to try to convey a message or analysis about border experience or control, but rather to get viewers to wonder about the very frames and images through which they envision and construct these phenomena.

The process consists of looking for resonance between the sources nourishing the writing and obvious images on the set. Without didacticism, this circus performance echoes an idea, a concept or a theory. The research work on the stage is thus stimulated and the circus dimension of the writing appears particularly in the testing of the bodies and objects (scenographic or accessories) as well as in the permanent questioning of the relation between actors, objects and spectators.

Through the diversion of objects the issue of the loopholes available to man against a large system of monitoring and control is also discussed. By reinventing the use of their surroundings, sometimes in an absurd way, the interpreters refer as much to the dysfunctions of the control systems as to the multiple ways in which they are reappropriated, instrumentalized and diverted by the formal and informal entrepreneurs who seize the opportunities. generated by border closures to human mobility.

The process consists of looking for resonance between the sources nourishing the writing and the images on the stage. Without didacticism, this circus performance echoes an idea, a concept or a theory. The research work on the stage is thus stimulated and the Circassian dimension of the writing appears particularly when bodies and objects (scenographic or accessories) are put to test, as well as through the permanent questioning of the relation between actors, objects and spectators.

The constant diversion of objects evokes the escapes and circumvention available to people submitted to such systems of monitoring and control. By reinventing the use of their surroundings, sometimes in an absurd way, the interpreters refer as much to the dysfunctions of the control systems as to the multiple ways in which they are reappropriated, instrumentalized and diverted by the formal and informal entrepreneurs who seize the opportunities generated by border closures.

Photo, Cedric Parizot, Theatre of Arles, 2017

From the staging of the border to the dehumanization of migrants

Entre is a moving, disturbing piece that questions our relationship with migrants and borders. At a time when our politicians are instrumentalizing, for electioneering purposes, the arrival of refugees fleeing misery and wars and calling for the tightening of border security, this piece is highly relevant.

It starts with a certain gravity, around a tragic story, that of a man, Merhan Karimi Nasseri, this Iranian who remained 16 years locked in the Terminal 1 of Roissy while waiting the settlement of his administrative situation. From the outset, the slowness of his movements and his rhythm of speech contrasts with the frantic pace with which some passengers in transit moves. This sense of dephasing continues to grow, as the piece overlaps and mixes, with the words of this man, locked in circulation, scenes that successively put into play the control of the flow of passengers, the staff in charge of cleaning, the training of future controllers, humanitarians interviewing migrants, a researcher in conference, etc. The multiplication of these fragments, the progressive acceleration of the rhythm of the game come to drown the story and the life of this man to give them an almost anecdotal character. And this is one of the strength of Entre, that of insisting on the fact that the dramaturgy and the security outbid around contemporary borders dehumanize migrants.

But the play goes much further. Oscillating between new circus and theater, alternating between tragic and burlesque, Entre mobilizes a writing and a staging that never leave the viewer time to settle comfortably in a register that he masters. Entre therefore questions doubly: first of all, the outlook and attitude we must adopt towards migrants and border control; and then, the legitimacy of the artistic and scientific forms through which we can evoke, think and approach the phenomena that affect our societies.

Photo, Cedric Parizot, Theatre of Arles, 2017

Author and director: Vincent Berhault

Part of the writing of the show is the result of a research on the set, so the performers are all registered as authors in the repertoire.

With: Barthélémy Goutet, Benjamin Colin, Grégory Kamoun, Toma Roche and Xavier Kim.

Musical composition: Benjamin Colin

Contribution to writing: Cédric Parizot – anthropologist of politics

Costumes: Barthélémy Goutet

Light creation: Benoit Aubry

Decor construction: Plug In Circus


Co-productions and residencies:

Théâtre d’Arles, scène conventionnée art et création – nouvelles écritures
Cie 36 du mois – Cirque 360
Pôle National des Arts du Cirque de la Verrerie, Alès
L’Espace Périphérique de la Villette, Paris

Research in residencies and labs:

L’échangeur à Bagnolet, 20-22 July 2015
2R2C Paris – research lab, 12-15 October 2015.
Centre des arts et du Mouvement (CIAM) Aix-en-Provence – research lab du 24-25 February 2016.
Le Point HauT, lieu du pOlau à St pierre des Corps – scientific and typographic research 4-11 March 2016.
Le vent se lève Pantin – research lab 7-8 May 2016.
Atelier du plateau Paris – research 30 May- 4 June 2016.

Creative residencies

Académie Fratellini Saint-Denis – 27 June-2 July 2016.
l’Espace Périphérique de la Villette Paris – 20-24 February 2017.
Théâtre Sylvia Monfort Paris – 27 February 3 March 2017.
Cie 36 du mois – Cirque 360 – 10-21 April 2017.
PNAC de la Verrerie Alès – 22 May 2 June 2017.
Ville du Plessis-Paté – 15-22 Septembre 2017
Théâtre d’Arles – 23 Octobre 6 Novembre 2017.

Supports and Grants:

assistance to the dramatic production of the DRAC Ile-de-France
assistance to creation for circus art of the DGCA
support of the SACD / Processus Cirque
assistance to the project Région Ile-de-France
Institut de Recherche et d’Etude sur le Monde Arabe et Musulman (UMR7310, Aix Marseille Université, CNRS)
Institut d’Etudes Avancées (IMéRA) d’Aix Marseille Université
aides à la création de l’ADAMI et de la SPEDIDAM

Previous performances

Théâtre d’Arles, 7-8 Novembre 2017
La verrerie d’Alès, 10 Novembre 2017
Festival des illusions, Théâtre Le Monfort, Paris, March 15-18 2018

A Crossing Industry, a video game between art and research

Ethnographic research, artistic creation and video-game technology

A Crossing Industry focuses on the operations of the Israeli separation regime in the West Bank during the three years following the second Intifada (2007-2010). Still in development, it is being produced by a transdisciplinary team composed of an anthropologist (Cédric Parizot), an artist (Douglas Edric Stanley), a philosopher (Jean Cristofol) and ten students at the École supérieure d’art d’Aix-en-Provence. In this contribution, we discuss how game video technology has allowed the team to use a documentary approach to model ethnographic analysis, using artistic conceptualization with its own aesthetic and poetic issues.

Our initial reflections on the content and the format for our game took place at the École d’Art d’Aix-en-Provence. We regularly met at Douglas’ Hypermedia Workshop (Atelier Hypermédia), where he and his students experiment with programming in their artistic practices.

In October 2013, the project finally adopted a graphic language which uses low-poly 3D objects, a single background with grey nuances (empty with no visible ground) and primary colours for representing different types of places (Israeli-controlled zones, Palestinian zones, etc.) and the specific status of individuals (Palestinians, Palestinians with Israeli citizenship, Israeli Jews, soldiers, border guards, etc.). By placing these objects on a map similar to the one I had drawn, we were able to develop the first layout for the navigational space.

This first draft made us realize that there were substantial gaps between Cedric’s scientific proposal and the artistic conceptualization developed by Douglas and the students. At this point, we realized that we had to rethink our respective positions. I could no longer remain in my role as transmitter of knowledge, while the artists needed to objectivize that knowledge through the coding of a visual language, text and rules of interaction. We had to give much greater thought to understanding how we could work through these difficulties.

A critical and artistic documentary

In September 2014, we explored new lines of articulation and a new scenario. Cedric Parizot attempted to appropriate the graphic language provided by Unity and the software for writing scenarios. The reflections generated by these attempts allowed him to make a critical appraisal of the hegemonic character that he had given to certain regimes of visibility, such as cartography. They also allowed him to understand the contingent and intersubjective nature involved in constructing an argument through a video game. Finally, they contributed to a rethinking of the various forms of intervention that A Crossing Industry could offer. This is in fact how the game was able to assume fully its role as critical documentary: not so much because it could document a situation in the field, but because it forced the team to reflect on their methods of accessing and constructing a reality.

Cédric Parizot, Douglas Edric Stanley – A Crossing Industry 2014 from antiAtlas Journal on Vimeo.

In the second draft we aimed to put on stage the story of a young Palestinian man who returns to his home village just after the Second Intifada (2000-2004). After several years abroad, he discovers not only that his village is now blocked in by Israeli settlements and the Wall of Separation, but also that restrictions on movement around the village have been tightened. But the Israelis are not the only people to introduce regulations on the movement of people and merchandise. As he rediscovers his bearings, he learns about a informal economy that organizes the passage of Palestinians into Israel. It involves Palestinians, Israelis and sometimes people of other nationalities.

For more elements on the process of creation of the game see: Parizot, Cedric, Stanley, Douglas Edric, “Research, Art and Video games: Ethnography of an extra-disciplinary exploration”, antiAtlas Journal, 01 | 2016, [Online], published on June 30th, 2016

Another writing and teaching format

In 2016, given the persistent gaps between the graphics and the scenario and the difficulty of moving forward, we chose to restart from scratch. Cédric Parizot then changed medium to think the framework of the scenario. From text writing, he moved to the drawing a dozen scenes. On this basis, the story and the graphical interface have been completely redesigned. This new project now involves Cédric Parizot, Douglas Edric Stanley and Robin Moretti.

The new scenario revolves around a young French anthropologist who leaves an Israeli city in the Negev desert to cross to the other side of the wall and reach a Palestinian village. He is scheduled to meet with a final interlocutor to finalize his investigation of the smuggling networks that facilitate the passage of Palestinian workers to Israel. However, he never meet this person. In the absence of this meeting, he has to improvise and seek new contacts among his relatives and relations. In doing so, he realizes that Israelis and Palestinians are much more interconnected than the Israeli political project of separation suggests.

Based on this story, the goal is to produce a playful documentary based on an artistic and critical approach of the operation of the Israeli separation regime imposed on Palestinians in the Occupied Territories. The challenge is also to experiment and develop new writing practices that combine research, art and video-game technology in order to:
– build and shape a knowledge coming from an ethnographic research
– create training materials for young artists and
young researchers in human sciences
– develop new tools for writing and non-linear forms of narration for researchers and independent artists.


Cedric Parizot
Douglas Edric Stanley
Robin Moretti
Jean Cristofol
Yohan Dumas
Benoit Espinola
Tristan Fraipont
Émilie Gervais
Théo Goedert
Mathieu Gonella
Martin Greffe
Bastien Hudé
Thomas Molles
Milena Walter.


Institut de recheche et d’études sur le monde arabe et musulmans (UMR7310, Aix Marseille Université, CNRS)
Ecole supérieure d’art d’Aix en Provence
Institut d’études avancées d’Aix Marseille Unuversité (IMéRA)
French Ministry of Culture

Conference Coding and Decoding the Borders, Brussels, 2016


April 13, 2016, Faculté d’architecture La Cambre,
April 14, 2016, Université Libre de Bruxelles,
April 15, 2016, World Costums Organization


Espace Architecture Flagey, Bruxelles

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Wednesday 13 april 2016

15.30 – Introduction
Andrea Rea (Université Libre de Bruxelles/GERME) and Cédric Parizot (IREMAM, CNRS/ Aix Marseille Université)

15.45-16.30 – Keynote lecture
Didier Bigo (King’s College, London),

Reconceptualising boundaries differently from Westphalian model ? The practices of border, police and military controls and the trends of delocalisation and digitisation

17.00-17.45 – Arts and science at the border

Jean Cristofol (Ecole supérieure d’Art d’Aix-en-Provence),
Art-science and exploratory processes

Nicola Mai (Kingston University, London),
Assembling ‘Samira’ and ‘Travel’: understanding humanitarian biographical borders through experimental ethnofictional filmmaking.

17.45-18.30 – Discussion

18.45 – Opening of the exhibition
Performance by Vincent Berhault (Compagnie Les Singuliers), Chronicle at borders

Thusday 14 april 2016

9.30-11.00 – Extent and limits of datamining
Chair: Andrea Rea (Université libre de Bruxelles/GERME)

Julien Jeandesboz (REPI/Université libre de Bruxelles/REPI),
Calculation devices: EUROSUR and European border policing

Martina Tazzioli (LabexMed, LAMES, CNRS/Aix Marseille Université),
Track, sort and archive: Eurosur, Frontex and the temporality of migration maps

Sara Casella Colombeau (LabexMed, LAMES, CNRS/Aix Marseille Université),
Building a genealogy of data gathering and production at the border – An analysis of the professional transformation of the French border police since the 1990s

11.30-12.30 – Discussion
Discutant : Federica Infantino (Oxford University/Université Libre de Bruxelles/GERME)

14.00-15.30 From coding to visualisation
Chair: Thomas Cantens (Organisation Mondiale des Douanes)

Anne-Laure Amilhat-Szary (PACTE, CNRS/Université de Grenoble), Gabriel Popescu (Indiana University, Southbend),
Border as Code : Algorithmizing Access

Jean Pierre Cassarino (Institut de Recherche sur le Maghreb Contemporain, Tunis),
Making Migration Control Visible and Intelligible

Cédric Parizot (IREMAM, CNRS/AMU), Mathieu Coulon (LAMES, CNRS/AMU), Guillaume Stagnaro (ESAAix), Antoine Vion (LEST, CNRS/AMU),
Visualising Border networks: Codes, Nodes, and Mapping

16h00-17h00 – Discussion
Discutant : Christophe Wasinski (Université Libre de Bruxelles/REPI)

Friday 15 april 2016

9.00 – Introduction
Sigfríður Gunnlaugsdóttir (President of the ethic committee (WCO)

9.15-11.00 – Data control : use and ethics
Chair: Patricia Revesz (Organisation Mondiale des Douanes)

William L. Allen et Bastian Vollmer (Oxford University),
What Makes Secure Borders? Data, Transparency, and the Representation of Projection

Marcellin Djeuwo (Douanes du Cameroun),
The mathematisation of the fight against corruption and bad practices in Cameroon Customs : the practice and reality

Felipe Mendes Moraes (Douanes du Brésil),
API: an example of control at borders

Renaud Chatelus (Université de Liège – European Studies Unit),
The decision-making chain for risk management applied to border controls: some lessons learnt from a European simulation of strategic goods control

11.15-12.15 – Discussion
Discutant: Julien Jeandesboz (Université Libre de Bruxelles/REPI)

14.00-15.00 – Technical and Ethicla Perspectives in Border Control
Chair: Antoine Vion (LEST, CNRS/AMU)

Thomas Cantens (WCO Research Unit, Ecole d’Economie de l’Université d’Auvergne),
Mathematization of the border

Mariya Polner (WCO Compliance Sub-Directorate),
Technologies at the border: risks and opportunities

Michel Terestchenko (Université de Reims, IEP Aix-en-Provence),
Ethics and controls

16.00-17.00 – Discussion
Discussant : Xavier Pascual (Douane française)

17.00-18.00 – Concluding Round Table

Patricia Revesz (Organisation Mondiale des Douanes), Federica Infantino (Oxford University/Université Libre de Bruxelles/GERME), Anne Laure Amilhat-Szary (PACTE, CNRS/Université de Grenoble)


Organizing Committee

Andrea Rea (ULB), Thomas Cantens (OMD, antiAtlas), Patricia Revesz (OMD), Cédric Parizot (IREMAM, CNRS/Aix Marseille Université, antiAtlas), Anne Laure Amilhat-Szary (PACTE, CNRS/Universités de Grenoble, antiAtlas), Jean Cristofol (Ecole supérieure d’art d’Aix-en-Provence, antiAtlas), Federica Infantino (ULB, antiAtlas), Julien Jeandesboz (ULB), Antoine Vion (LEST, CNRS/Aix Marseille Université)

Scientific Committee

Anne Laure Amilhat-Szary (PACTE, CNRS/Universités de Grenoble, antiAtlas), Didier Bigo (King’s College), Thomas Cantens (Organisation mondiale des douanes/ antiAtlas), Jean Cristofol (École supérieure d’art d’Aix-en-Provence, antiAtlas), Federica Infantino (ULB, antiAtlas), Dirk Jacobs (ULB), Julien Jeandesboz (ULB), Christian Olsson (ULB), Cédric Parizot (IREMAM, Aix Marseille), Andrea Rea (ULB), Patricia Revesz (OMD), Antoine Vion (LEST, Université Aix Marseille)


Faculté de Philosophie et Sciences sociales de l’Université Libre de Bruxelles, l’Organisation Mondiale des Douanes, l’antiAtlas des frontières, l’Institut de recherches et d’études sur le monde arabe et musulman (CNRS/Aix Marseille Université), le projet LabexMed (Aix Marseille université, Fondation A*midex),  le Laboratoire d’Economie et de Sociologie du travail (CNRS/Aix Marseille Université), PACTE (CNRS/Universités de Grenoble), Kareron et l’Ecole supérieure d’Art d’Aix en Provence.

Coding and Decoding Borders, Bruxelles 2016

Group show
April 13th – May 31, 2016
Espace Architecture Flagey-ULB, Brussels

Artistic curators: Isabelle Arvers and Nathalie Lévy
Scientific curators: Andrea Rea and Cédric Parizot

Coding and decoding the borders exhibits the work of artists and researchers who question the datafication and mathematization of the border. Over the past twenty years many actors (researchers, journalists, NGO workers and activists, elected politicians, employees of national administrations and of international organisations, and so on) have observed, documented, studied and sometimes even condemned the technological escalation at borders. Above the militarization of borders, the deployment of ever more sophisticated technologies (biometry, robots, fences and walls, integrated surveillance systems, data mining, big data, etc.) at state borders have been added to the traditional practices of control of movement of populations, goods, capital and information. The study of this technological escalation generally tends to separate the analysis according to the object of control: people, goods, capital. From a perspective intertwining art, research and expertise, the public is invited to look at the circulation of knowledge and techniques between these objects, at the functioning and dysfunctionning of the mechanisms of control as well as their circumvention by a multitude of actors.

The materiality of digital borders control

The escalation of border control on land, at sea, in the air and on internet in Europe and the rest of the world has radically transformed the nature of borders and how they operate. In order to adapt to and to follow the acceleration of movement of people, goods and information, control systems are relying on increasingly sophisticated digital technologies (biometrics, robots, integrated surveillance systems, data mining, etc.). Some analysts have seen in these trends the symptoms of the de-materialization of contemporary borders. Yet, all these control technologies still retain a strong materiality. They often rely on dense and heavy networks of physical infrastructures. While these networks can be sometimes hidden, like submarine cables (Submarine cable map, Markus Krisetya et al., 2016), they can also be staged such as walls, fences, and checkpoints (Cartographie des Murs, Stéphane Rosière et Sébastien Piantoni, 2016) in order to demonstrate state action and sovereignty. Both designed to manage human body and to be displayed, these artifacts contribute to the development of new esthetics of control (Body and Border, CoRS, 2016). Finally, border control technologies are all the more material as they instantiate or “materialize” hierarchies between people as well as the passage from one space to another (Immigration Game, Antoine Kik, 2016).

Antoine Kik, Immigration game, 2016

CoRS, Body and borders, 2016

Stéphane Rosière et Sébastien Piantoni, Planisphère des barrières frontalières, 2016

Automation, Datafication and mathematization of border control

The automation of controls is accompanied by both the growing input of data and the “mathematization” of border procedures and border crossings. “Mathematization” is taken here to mean the progressive representation of borders in an increasingly abstract space, structured by quantitative methods (whether in economics, sociology, etc.), by autonomous information based on its own paradigms (logistics and the need for rapid and lower-cost border crossings) and by a specific form of language (technology as a corpus of knowledge on the techniques and tools of surveillance of persons and objects). Some people regard the automation and autonomization of border surveillance technologies as more reliable than human controls, others, on the contrary, express concern about this trend. They point to the risk of endangering the rights and freedoms of the mobile populations or states concerned. The artworks gathered in this part of the exhibition problematize this general trend. Banoptikon (Personal Cinema Collective, 2010-2013) reminds us of the datafication of the body and the new forms taken by control. SimBorder (Pierre Depaz, 2016) and eu4you (Larbits Sisters, 2015) highlight the centrality that algorithms have progressively taken in the control of people movements and access, while ADM8 (Rybn, 2016) shows their significance in the management of financial operations and flows.

Pierre Depaz, SimBorder, 2016

LarbitsSisters, eu4you, depuis 2015

Collectif Personal Cinema, Banoptikon, 2010-2013

RYBN, ADM8, 2016

Borders’ visibility

New technologies of information and communication have not only transformed the functioning of borders they have also changed borders’ visibility. They have introduced new apparatus through which we access and represent the world. Digital maps and GPS system have radically changed our perspective, the ways we project ourselves into space and thus the modalities by which we perceive and imagine borders. Moreover, data mining has not merely increased our calculation capacities, it has also invented a new world. While statistics had created society, and poll had produced public opinion, data mining has created digital traces, through which movements of people, goods, funds and information can be traced, monitored or displayed. Finally, by providing hightech mechanisms for the channeling, the facilitation or the filtering movements, these technologies help reorganize differently the space practices of different groups of populations within and around border zones. Drawing on photos (Calais 1, Michel Couturier, 2015), static and dynamic maps (The Migratory Red Mount, Nicolas Lambert, 2015; One World, Bill Rankin, 2015; Refugee’s trajectories, Martin Grandjean, 2015; 407 camps, Mahaut Lavoine, 2015; Parallel, Lawrence Bird, 2012), the artworks and research presented in this part of the exhibition problematize these very regimes of visibility. They also intend to render visible what is usually made invisible.

Lawrence Bird, Parallel, depuis 2012

Michel Couturier, Calais 1, 2015

Nicolas Lambert, The migratory red mound, 2015

Mahaut Lavoine, 407 camps, 2015

Martin Grandjean, Refugee’s trajectories, 2015

Bill Rankin, One World II, 2015

Critical documentaries

Most people build their knowledge on migrants’ lives and experiences through the press, reports and documentaries. While these media play a determinant role in informing and developing public awareness, the reality they construct and display is highly shaped by the narratives, standardized scripts and practices, as well as the regimes of visibility in which they are embedded. Our exhibition presents five critical documentary dispositives that aim to reflect on the very conditions by which contemporary and mainstream documentary practices gives us access and shape our representation of migrants lives and experiences. Nicola Mai’s ethnofiction Travel (2016) shows how migrants assemble their bodies and perform their subjectivity according to standardized humanitarian scripts of victimhood, vulnerability and gender/sex that act as ‘biographical borders’ between deportation and access to social support, legal documentation and work. Keina Espineira’s Colour of the Sea (2015) reflects on how performing a film in the threshold stage within the journey of subsaharian migrants contributes to produce and activate a specific border experience. Through a series of photos Giovanni Ambrosio (Please do not show my face, 2013) and a video Antoine D’Agata (Odysseia, 2011-2013problematize the shapes through which migrants lives are pictured, while Isabelle Arvers’ machinima, Heroic Makers (2016) suggests a different way to voice migrants experiences.

Antoine d’Agata, Odysseia, 2011-2013

Giovanni Ambrosio, Please do not show my face, depuis 2013 (projet évolutif)

Isabelle Arvers, Heroic Makers vs Heroic Land, 2016

Keina Espiñeira, The Colour of the Sea. A Filmic Border Experience in Ceuta, 2015

Nicola Mai, Travel, 2016

Dysfunctioning and re-appropriations

Border control technologies are often considered to be omnipotent, omniscient et omnipresent. Both their promoters and opponents are fascinated by their power. Yet, they overlook the fact that it is not possible to dissociate surveillance techniques, however successful and automated they may be, from the political, social and economic conditions in which they are first designed then put into effect. Deployed and associated with systems of pre-existing checks and with specific institutional and political stakeholders, they reproduce the contradictions and lack of foresight of the organizations and stakeholders that deploy them. Moreover, in transforming and modifying the organizational environment in which they are deployed and in modifying the reality they are intended to control, they create new challenges. Lastly, they are often re-appropriated not only by the actors who implement them but also by those seeking to elude border surveillance. Border Bumping (Julian Oliver, 2012) exemplify the disruptive power of cellular telecommunications infrastructure that often challenge the integrity of national borders. Virtual Watchers (Joana Moll, Marius Pé and Ramin Soleymani 2016) highlights both the dysfunctionning and the unforeseen re-appropriations of a panoptic system of surveillance by American citizens along the border with Mexico. Cartographies of Fear #2 (Anne Zeitz et Carolina Sanchez Boe, 2016) questions how by  taking over technologies of communication, migrants can affect their relationship to space. Finally, Borderland Biashara & Mobile Technology (Emerging Futures Lab, 2015) highlights and maps the way the reappropriation of mobile phone technologies contribute to sustain an informal economic ecosystem in the borderlands of East African communities.

Emerging Futures Lab (EFL), Borderland Biashara & Mobile Technology, état des recherches en 2015

Anne Zeitz et Carolina Sanchez Boe, Cartographies of Fear #2, 2016

Joana Moll et Cédric Parizot, The Virtual Watchers, 2016

Julian Oliver, Border Bumping, 2012


Faculté de Philosophie et Sciences sociales de l’Université Libre de Bruxelles, l’Organisation Mondiale des Douanes, l’antiAtlas des frontières, l’Institut de recherches et d’études sur le monde arabe et musulman (CNRS/Aix Marseille Université), le projet LabexMed (Aix Marseille université, Fondation Amidex), le Laboratoire d’Economie et de Sociologie du travail (CNRS/Aix Marseille Université), PACTE (CNRS/Universités de Grenoble), Kareron et l’Ecole supérieure d’Art d’Aix en Provence.

Isabelle Arvers – Heroic Makers vs Heroic Land

Isabelle Arvers
Heroic Makers vs Heroic Land
Vidéos Machinimas, 2016

These interviews are excerpted from a work-in-progress. It’s a machinima documentary that I’m making from a game engine, photos taken in the Calais jungle and interviews with the residents from February 6-20, 2016. Notwithstanding, France’s Pas-de-Calais prefecture issued an expulsion order regarding the jungle’s south section that expired on February 23. The entire camp has been nicknamed the “jungle”, as this land was originally a hunting field, and the lack of basic support from the local authorities has transformed people into animals…

Read these interviews on Makery

The question I ask myself, what I want to understand, is how to live in the jungle, how to restore its humanity, how to create spaces for living and sharing together. How to do the work of a government that shuns it, that refuses to see the urgency of the situation, that focuses instead on “reducing” the number of immigrants in Calais—without ever taking into account the dignity of those in transit, who seek not asylum but to cross the Channel to the UK as soon as possible…

In a little less than a year together, and with the help of numerous French and especially British NGOs, the refugees of the jungle have built what has become a city-world, populated by places of worship, shops, services, restaurants, schools, galleries, cultural spaces…

These everyday heroes are not only able to meet most community needs, they introduce a fledgling political model, based on decisions made from the representative of each community present, which are heard by NGOs, with all due respect to the needs, expectations and voices of the residents.

The jungle’s biggest irony is the mayor of Calais’ “big project” to rebrand her city by creating a 275 million euro amusement park called Heroic Land—a theme park inspired by the world of video games, manga and heroic fantasy… with total contempt for the true heroes, those who find solutions to the oh-so-complex problems of migration and transit zones…

For this reason I chose the medium of video games to translate my interviews of these jungle residents and give them another dimension. The excerpts presented here refer to building the Chemin des Dunes school. Zimako Jones, the project’s instigator and an asylum seeker from Nigeria, was assisted by NGOs such as Solidarité Laïque, Ateliers Sans Frontières, volunteer groups and “brothers”, as he calls them. One of these brothers is Marko, a Kurdish man who has been in the jungle for more than 11 weeks (and prefers to remain anonymous). He is helping Zimako finalize the construction of what he calls a forum, a place for meeting, exchange and learning for children, as well as for adults.

They talk about building, following a vision, never giving up, staying on site, supporting families, children, mutual aid…

Isabelle Arvers est auteur, critique et commissaire d’exposition indépendante. Son champ d’investigation est l’immatériel, au travers de la relation entre l’Art, les Jeux Vidéo, Internet et les nouvelles formes d’images liées au réseau et à l’imagerie numérique.

Marko, from the Calais jungle to Isabelle Arvers’s machinima:

Marko, de la jungle de Calais au machinima d’Isabelle Arvers:

Nicola Mai – Travel

Nicola Mai

Travel is a two-screen ethnofictional installation presenting the life history of Joy, a Nigerian migrant woman selling sex in the Bois de Vincennes in Paris. Joy left Nigeria in order to help her family after the death of her father. She knew that she was going to sell sex before leaving, but was unaware of the hard working and life condition she would have had to face in France. After having endured several months of exploitation, Joy decides to reinterpret her story of migration as one of trafficking. With the help of an association she obtains humanitarian protection, but in order to keep helping her family and live her life she keeps selling sex at night.

Nicola Mai is an ethnographer and filmmaker working as Professor of Sociology Migration Studies at London Metropolitan University. His main research interest is the negotiation of gender, sexuality and subjectivity through the migration process, with particular reference to the globalised sex industry as a contested and ambivalent space of control and autonomy. In his academic work and films, Nick problematises prevailing understandings of the global sex trade as characterised by exploitation and victimisation, by showing the complexity of the subjective investments of the people involved. In his Sex Work Trilogy, he explores differents meeting experiences between migration and the sex industry.

The Virtual Watchers

Joana Moll & Cédric Parizot, 2010

The Virtual Watchers is an on-going research project at the intersection of art, research and technology that questions the dynamics of crowdsourcing at contemporary State borders. It focuses on the exchanges that occurred within a Facebook group that gathered American volunteers ready to monitor US-Mexico border through an online platform that displayed live screenings of CCTV cameras. The declared aim of this operation was to bring American citizens to participate in reducing border crime and block the entrance of illegal immigration to the US by means of crowdsourcing. This initiative, a public-private partnership, was originally launched in 2008 and consisted of an online platform called RedServants [1] and a network of 200 cameras and sensors located in strategic areas along the US Mexico border. Some of these cameras were also installed in the private properties of volunteering citizens. The online platform gave free access to the camera broadcasts 24/7 and allowed users to report anonymously if they noticed any suspicious activity on the border. RedServants had 203.633 volunteer users since 2008, and resulted in 5331 interdictions, which overall represents almost 1 million hours of free labour for the authorities. The program stopped in 2012 due to lack of financial support, as announced in its official Facebook page in May 13th 2012.

This project offers an interactive window that allows the public to access some of the original video feeds recorded by the RedServant’s surveillance cameras, and dive into the conversations, jokes, and questionings of the Facebook group that gathered some of the volunteering citizens that actively used the platform [2]. By doing so, it highlights to what extent the emotional investment and exchanges of these people work as an essential mechanism in the construction and legitimization of a post-panoptic system.

1. The original name of the platform has been changed in order to protect the identity of its users.
2. All the profile pictures and real names of the Facebook group members have been faked in order to protect their identities.

Visit the project

The Art of Bordering, MAXXI, Rome, 2014

The Art of Bordering: Economies, Performances and Technologies of Migration Control

MAXXI, the National Museum of XXI Century Arts
October 24-26, 2014

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The Art of Bordering is an art-science event merging an academic conference and an exhibition in order to discuss the material and symbolic construction of the Mediterranean as a border zone, the governance and politicization of migration control, the strategies of adaptation, contestation and subversion of “Fortress Europe” developed by migrants and European citizens.

During three days, Italian, French, German, and British academics, journalists and artists debate how new technologies, geopolitical conflicts and socio-economic inequalities have transformed both migration flows and the material, political and symbolic dimensions of borders in the 21st century.

The Art of Bordering will compare the different and overlapping ways in which art, technology and the social sciences address contemporary bordering dynamics. This strategic comparison aims to highlight the different and interrelated ways in which borders have become strategic places for the performance and observation of the symbolic representations, political agencies and governmental techniques at work in contemporary neoliberal societies.

By enabling discussions between academics, artists and the public, this conference/exhibition will facilitate the exchange between the different approaches, tools and devices through which border processes may be represented, deciphered and deconstructed. The debates, links, quotations, transfers and exemplifications, will also help problematizing the boundaries existing between these fields of knowledge and practice.


Friday 24 October 2014

MAXXI Gallery

16:00-17:00 – Multiple screening

Borders (2010), a video of an animated pencil drawing, by Simona Koch
The Texas Border (2011), a video by Joana Moll & Heliodoro Santos, Partire, pictures by Heidrun Friese


Les Messagers (The Messengers) (2013, 66 min), documentary by Laetitia Tura and Hélène Crouzillat. MAXXI B.A.S.E., Sala Graziella Lonardi Buontempo


Welcome by Hanru Hou and the organisers of The Art of Bordering


Presentation and screening of Liquid Traces: Investigating the Deaths of Migrants at the EU’s Maritime Frontier (2013 – 17min) by Charles Heller and Lorenzo Pezzani


Presentation and screening of Samira (2013 – 26 min) by Nicola Mai


Presentation and screening of Io Sto con la Sposa / On The Bride’s Side (2014 – 90min) by Antonio Augugliaro, Gabriele Del Grande and 
Khaled Soliman Al Nassiry.


Q&A with the public

Saturday 25 October 2014

MAXXI B.A.S.E. Sala Graziella Lonardi Buontempo

9:30-10:00 – Introduction

10:00-11:30 – Session 1 – Rebordering Migration in Times of Crisis

Corrado Bonifazi – Istituto di Ricerche sulla Popolazione e le Politiche Sociali, Rome, Italy
Crisis and Migration in Italy: the Reshaping of a Mediterranean Border of the EU

Lucio Caracciolo – LIMES – Rivista italiana di geopolitica, Rome, Italy
Does Italy still have borders?

Virginie Baby Collin – TELEMME, AMU-CNRS, Aix en Provence, France
Staying, Returning, Leaving Elsewhere? Latin-American Migratory Fields and Migrant’s Strategies in the Context of Spanish Crisis


Isabelle Arvers, artist and curator
Close the camps (video 10 min), data-visualization

12:30-13:30 – Discussion

Chair and discussant: Giusy d’Alconzo, Medici Contro la Tortura / Doctors Against Torture, Rome.

15.00-16:30 – Session 2: Political Economy of Border Management

Elena Dell’Agnese – University of Milan Bicocca, Italy
From Border Music to Borderless Music

Steve Wright – Leeds University, United Kingdom
Cashing in on Fears of Mass Migration- The Political Economy of EU Border Management

Federica Infantino – Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium
What does migratory ‘risk’ mean? Decision-making in three visa sections in Morocco

16.30-17:30 – Coffee Break and Artwork Presentation

Stones and Nodes: the Working Out of the Separation between Israel and Palestine, an art-science work by Cédric Parizot – IREMAM, CNRS/Aix-Marseille Université, Antoine Vion – LEST, CNRS/Aix-Marseille Université, Mathieu Coulon – LAMES, CNRS/Aix-Marseille Université, Guillaume Stagnaro – ESAAix (2014)

17:30-18:30 – Discussion

Chair and Discussant: Giuseppe Sciortino – University of Trento, Italy


Les Messagers (The Messengers) (2013, 66min), documentary by Laetitia Tura and Hélène Crouzillat

20:10-21:45 – Multiple screening, MAXXI Gallery

Borders (2010), a video of an animated pencil drawing, by Simona Koch
The Texas Border (2011), a video by Joana Moll & Heliodoro Santos
Partire, pictures by Heidrun Friese


Io con la sposa by Antonio Augugliaro, Gabriele Del Grande and 
Khaled Soliman Al Nassiry (trailer with Italian subtitles),
Liquid Traces by Charles Heller and Lorenzo Pezzani (17 minutes),  Samira by Nicola Mai (26 minutes)

Sunday 26 October 2014

MAXXI B.A.S.E. Sala Graziella Lonardi Buontempo

10:00-11:30 – Session 3: Formal and Informal Border Practices

Barbara Sorgoni – University of Bologna, Italy
Bordering Asylum Rights: Narrative Credibility and the Assessment of Truth

Thomas Cantens – CNE, EHESS-Aix-Marseille Université, France/WCO, Bruxelles, Belgium, Comparing Borders:  from tracing to measuring

Chiara Brambilla – University of Bergamo, Italy
Navigating the Euro-African Border and Migration Nexus Through the Borderscape Lens

11.30-12:30 – Coffee Break and Artwork Presentation

Emborders: Challenging Sexual Humanitarianism through Qualitative Research and Experimental Filmmaking, an ethnofiction by Nicola Mai, LAMES, Aix-Marseille University, France and London Metropolitan University, London.

12:30-13:30 – Discussion

Chair and discussant: Heidrun Friese, Technische Universität Chemnitz, Germany

15:00-17:00 – Final Round Table

Jean Cristofol – Higher School for Art, Aix-en-Provence
Camille Schmoll – Université Paris VII Denis Diderot, France
Heidrun Friese – Technische Universität Chemnitz, Germany
Filippo Celata – Università La Sapienza, Rome


A project of the MAXXI, the Institut Français d’Italie and the IREMAM (Aix Marseille Université), organized by Cédric Parizot, Filippo Celata, Raffaella Coletti, Heidrun Friese, Nicola Mai, Alessio Rosati, Benoit Tadié, Antoine Vion. Curator: Isabelle Arvers. Coordination: Clémentine Verschave.


In partnership with the LabexMed program (Aix-Marseille Université, Fondation A*MIDEX), Dipartimento MEMOTEF (La Sapienza), le Laboratoire de Sociologie du Travail (CNRS, Aix Marseille Université), Laboratoire Méditerranéen de Sociologie (CNRS, Aix Marseille Université), Temps, Espaces, Langages, Europe Méridionale – Méditerranée (CNRS, Aix Marseille Université), Ecole Supérieure d’Art d’Aix en Provence, PACTE (CNRS ; Université de Grenoble), Alliance Athena


Download the report of the conference (FR) by Camille Schmoll (Université Paris VII Denis Diderot)

Conference and exhibition, Internazionale Festival, Ferrara, 2014

Imbarcadero 2, Castello Estense, Ferrara
October 3th, 2014

Conference: A Subversive Atlas, For a new conception of borders and migrations in the 21st century

– Nicola Mai (Sociologist, ethnographer and filmmaker, University of Aix-Marseille/London Metropolitan University)
– Cédric Parizot (Anthropologist, University of Aix-Marseille)
– Lorenzo Pezzani (Architect)
In Italian and French, with simultaneous translation.


Works by Charles Heller et Lorenzo Pezzani, Joana Moll et Héliodoro Santos Sanchez, Nicola Mai, Cédric Parizot et Douglas Edric Stanley. Curated by Isabelle Arvers.

– Cédric Parizot and Douglas Edric Stanley, A Crossing Industry, video game, 2013. The development of the informal border economy between Israel and Cisjordany in the last 20 years.

– Nicola Mai, Samira, video installation, 2013, 26′. The embodiment of humanitarian biographical borders: the story of an Algerian transgender woman in France who is changing her gender again in order to return to her country of origin.

– Charles Heller and Lorenzo Pezzani, Liquid Traces, animation, 2013, 17′. A boat full of migrants leaves Libia and drifts away within the area of patrolling assigned to NATO.

– Joana Moll and Héliodoro Santos Sanchez, Texas Border, installation video, 2011. Images and videos taken from the private surveillance cameras monitoring the border between United States and Mexico in Texas.


French Institute in Italy
Festival Internazionale

Maps of Secession, Berlin, 2014

Group show
Institut Français, Berlin
September 16th – October 10th, 2014

Works by Anri Sala, Kader Attia, Álvaro Martínez Alonso, Julie Bena, Famed, Hackitectura, Simona Koch, Nicolas Maigret, Migreurop, Cédric Parizot, Marco Pezzotta, Philippe Rekacewicz, Stéphane Rosière, ChTo, Watch the Med. With the participation of Isabelle Arvers, Institut Marc Bloch, Mittel-Europa (art space for a migrant Europe).

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Since January 2014, the European Society of Authors (Paris / Berlin) and Mittel-Europa (art space for a migrant Europe : Bruxelles / Berlin) have been working on a new program called Secession. From the birth of the Society in 2008, our project has been to contribute to a politics and poetics of forms for the 21st century: to shift the question of language to the in-between of languages, to the non-place (the linguistic u-topos) where translation takes place. The in-between of languages (l’entre-des-langues / zwischensprachligkeit) led us to redefine the author as a link, as a society (an author and his translators) and no longer only as a “solitude.” The in-between of languages, as a language, is also a way of designating the community of readers around an author as a community above and beyond the territories of language. This conception of the poetic link in the respect of AND in the movements of bodies and territories (migration, hybridization, translation) and their political repercussions (surpassing the identities of suffering, getting beyond closed subjectivity) are taken further in this third program we are glad to inaugurate today.

Secession is an itinerant, curatorial, project with literary, philosophical, and artistic dimensions. It is of course a reference to a certain period in Viennese modernity. But more than that, it is the whole Middle-European space – a space without a hollow, an empty center – that underpins the Secession project. What we would like to do is to take hold of Europe as an object, using art, literature, and philosophy, in order to shift and rethink the idea of a European common ground. Doing so to create an attachment to multiplicity, to “in-between-s”, and a breach in the kidnapped conceptions and representations of the European Union and its nations.

An evening of readings and performances was also scheduled on September 23th, starting from a fiction: a European “ghost people” has overthrown the old institutions of its continent. With contributions from Dorian Astor, Andrea Bajani, Patrick Boucheron, Alida Bremer, Christos Chrissopoulos, Marie Cosnay, François Cusset, György Dragomán, Mathias Énard, Juan Francisco Ferré, Srećko Horvat, Maylis de Kerangal, Yannis Kiourtsakis, Martin Pollack, Emmanuel Ruben, Joy Sorman, Robert Salais, Adam Thirlwell, Katharina Tiwald, Camille de Toledo, CécileWajsbrot, Karolina Wigura. These texts will constitute the beginning of the Secession archives. The evening will take place on September 23 in Berlin at the Heimathafen in Neukölln. Stage design is by Leyla Rabih.

These two events have been conceived and supported in collaboration with Allianz Kultur Stiftung, the Marc Bloch Center and the French Institute in Berlin.

Photographs © Mittel Europa


Simona Koch, Borders, since 2010

Hackitectura, Critical cartography of the straits of Gibraltar, 2004

Cédric Parizot and Douglas Edric Stanley, A Crossing Industry, 2013

Philippe Recacewicz, L’Europe se fond dans l’Asie dans une immense étreinte, 2013

Stéphane Rosière, Planisphère des frontières fermées, 2012


Allianz Kultur Stiftung, Centre Marc Bloch, Institut Français de Berlin

Conference – performance : “Data dramatization: Art, Science, Design & data visualization”

Friday, September 12,
The Lab, Cultural Institute Google
8 rue de Londres, 75009, Paris

A Conference-performance that questions the interactions between artists and scientists around the data dramatization:

Roger Malina, astrophysicist and founder of the ArtSciLab (Texas University – Dallas)

Andrew Blanton, composer, media artist / UT Dallas ArtSci Lab

Tommaso Venturini, research coordinator / Medialab Sciences-Po, Paris

Isabelle Arvers, author, media art curator / antiAtlas

Isabelle Arvers will realise a conference -performance with the system WJ-S and will present the and video content of the platform antiAtlas.

Workshop 10: Topology, Territory and Border Spaces

January 27 & 28, 2014
La Compagnie, Marseille
Maison des Astronomes
IMéRA (Mediterranean Institute for Advanced Research), Marseille

Topology is a branch of mathematics that deals with the properties of objects that are not changed under certain deformations of their shape. Social scientists have been inspired by topology in trying to understand the nature of territorial changes introduced by globalization. However, the relationship between topology and territory is not straightforward, as the former deals primarily with mathematical properties of space while the latter deals primarily with the social aspects of space. This workshop brings together scholars to engage these issues.

Monday, January 27, 2013

La Compagnie, 19 rue Francis de Pressensé, 13001 Marseille

Lauren Martin, Geographer, University of Oulu, Finland
Border Topologies: Law, Territory, and Bodies in US Immigration Enforcement

Christophe Sohn, Geographer, Public Research Center, CEPS, Luxembourg
The border assemblage: A relational approach to bordering

Gabriel Popescu, Geographer, Indiana University & IMeRA
The topological imagination: Territorializing mobile borders?

Alessandro Petti, Architect, Decolonizing Architecture Project, Palestine
Lawless lines

Anne-Laure Amilhat Szary, Geographer, University of Grenoble, France
The mobile border hypothesis

Stephanie Simon, Geographer, University of Amsterdam, Netherlands
Border temporalities: The space-time topology of interoperability and situational awareness

Charles Heller (Centre for Research Architecture, Goldsmiths College, University of London/ Watch The Med project)
The Topology of the EU’s Maritime Frontier

Tuesday, January 28

Maison des Astronomes, IMéRA (Mediterranean Institute for Advanced Research), Marseille

9:00 – 13:00 Closed door discussion on topology issues


Lauren Martin, Geographer, University of Oulu, Finland
Migration, Law, and Territory: A Topological Approach to Borders

In this talk, I will critically engage with the concept of topological borders, an increasingly cited but under-examined aspect of contemporary mobility control regimes. Borders have evoked both territorial bounding and the state’s prerogative to admit or exclude noncitizens, but this traditional association of borders with sovereign territoriality seems in conflict with empirical research on immigration and border policing. Databanking technologies, risk analysis, and surveillance practices allegedly allow state officials identify and detain dangerous individuals from the population far from the territorial margins of a nation-state. In addition, the interiorization and externalization of immigration policing—and the legal mechanisms that enable them—complicate notions of borders’ fixity. Paradoxical legal categorizations allow migrants to be physically present, yet excluded from legal protections, so that states can hold people simultaneously inside and outside the law. Moreover, new immigration laws sometimes work retroactively, calling not only the “where” but the “when” of migrant’s inclusion/exclusion into question. Topology, or the mathematical study of objects under continual transformation, seems to provide a provocatively nonlinear, open, and fluid alternative to Cartesian, cartographic space, one more capable of dealing with the  complexity of borders’ contemporary spatiality. However, while references to topological borders are rife, it is unclear how borders operate topologically. My aim is to refine and clarify a topological approach to borders and bordering, and to do so I bring recent conceptions of topological space to bear on immigration policing and border literatures.

Christophe Sohn, Geographer, Public Research Center, CEPS, Luxembourg 
The border assemblage: a conceptual exploration into border’s multiplicity

This paper is an attempt to conceptualize borders multiplicity by mobilizing the theory of assemblage developed by Deleuze and Guattari. The aim is to examine how multiple meanings emanating from various actors constitute a border assemblage and how this heterogeneous grouping of different parts allows us to scrutinize in a new way the changing significance of borders. In the first place, an analytical framework addressing borders multiplicity in terms of structure and agency is elaborated. Based on their enabling or constraining effect over agency, debordering and rebordering processes are interpreted according to four ‘conceptual invariants’. In the second place, the concept of assemblage is mobilized in order to understand how these different meanings that do not form a coherent whole relate one with each other. The border assemblage, conceived as a relational approach to borders multiplicity, makes it possible to unravel the uneven power relations that are both constitutive of and mediated by the border. The theory of assemblage also allows us to take into consideration the non-linear processes of territorialisation and coding that stabilize or disrupt borders ‘identity’. This leads us to consider the notion of ‘topological invariants’. Lastly, a conceptualization of the connections that hold together the disparate elements is undertaken in order to be able to represent a border assemblage in contextuality. Based on discourse network analysis, new ways of mapping real world border assemblages are considered.

Gabriel Popescu, Geographer, Indiana University & IMeRA 
The topological imagination: territorializing mobile borders 

Current attempts to securitize transnational mobility are profoundly altering borders’ relationship to space. If modern political territoriality is built on a geographical imagination that sees space as a rigid object to be divided by linear borders, recently we are witnessing a changing geographical imagination to incorporate a polyvalent perspective that is more in tune with a notion of space defined by mobility and connectivity rather than by proximity and distance decay. Accordingly, we are witnessing the emergence of complementary forms of state borders that, shaped in large part by digital technologies, depart from the norms of territorial linearity by becoming embedded into flows that can travel and be monitored continuously across space. Such articulation of borders changes the way movement through space is organized and how people and places come into contact. This “portal-like” logic of border geography brings people and places together by connecting them directly across space, unlike modern border territoriality that connects them via contiguous state territories. However, just what kind of political territoriality these mobile borders engender remains unclear as the tension between the two geographical imaginations is proving difficult to reconcile in practice. While the network model is often advanced when it comes to representing topological phenomena, this falls short of capturing the more complex dinamics of technologically embedded border flows.

Alessandro Petti, Architect, Decolonizing Architecture Project, Palestine
Lawless lines

When historian and former deputy mayor of Jerusalem Meron Benvenisti famously asked “who owns the ‘width of the line’?” he was referring to the 1949 cease-fire lines between Israel and Jordan. The lines, he wrote, had been drawn on a 1:20,000 scale map by the two military commanders— Moshe Dayan and Abdullah al-Tal. Meeting in an abandoned house in the frontier neighborhood of Musrara in Jerusalem, they laid out a map on the floor. Each drew a line using a different colored grease pencil: Dayan used green, and al­Tal, red. The thickness and softness of the colored pencils resulted in lines that were, generally, three to four millimeters wide. But because the floor under the map was uneven (or perhaps Dayan and al-Tal were a little careless), in some areas of Jerusalem the width of the line became wider.

Before and since then Palestine is traversed by these borderlines that aim to reduce modern geopolitics into a flat Euclidian space. However when these lines encounter reality, fields, olive and fruit orchards, roads, gardens, kindergartens, fences, terraces, homes, public buildings, mosques they produce a different reality.

By investigating the clash of these geopolitical lines onto the space of a house in Jerusalem, a mosque in the village of Burin, southwest of Nablus and in the unfinished and abandond Palestinian Parliament located in Abu Dis, we aim to revel how in Palestine, political spaces are not defined by the fictional partitions extablshed during two decades of “peace agreements”, but operate through legal voids. It is in these lawless lines that the regime manifest its nature but it is also in these extraterritorial dimension of these lawless lines that lays the possibility for tearing apart of the entire system of division.

*Research project developed with DAAR and Nicola Perugini

Anne-Laure Amilhat-Szary, Geographer, University of Grenoble, France
The mobile border hypothesis

Facing a world where the forms and functions of borders do not coincide anymore, we are confronted with a paradoxical episteme: one tendency to see borders everywhere, as they multiply in all kinds of spaces; another tendency to account for their topographical disparition in favour of a world of connections, which abides by complex topological systems. A closer look into the territoriality of borders reveals that the power games engaged across the linear borders have not totally disappeared, transferred into high tech surveillance devices and data basis sets. The mobile border hypothesis allows opens the ground for reflexion on the political impact of new topologies. Does the fragilizing of sovereignty induce the disappearance of the democratic political ideal?

Stephanie Simon, Geographer, University of Amsterdam, Netherlands 
Border temporalities: The space-time topology of interoperability and situational awareness

 This paper focuses on the imaginations of temporal and spatial topology in contemporary border surveillance by considering the push for ‘situational awareness’ and ‘interoperability’ as the prized traits of border surveillance actors and operations. In particular, the paper focuses on the new European external border surveillance program, EUROSUR, which ultimately wishes to foster situational awareness and interoperability by forging alignments between spatially and temporally dispersed elements. The program’s security imaginary resonates with the language of topology in its ambitions to bridge, morph, and blend intelligence from wildly dispersed sources—from undersea sensors to outer space satellites, from European liaisons in Libya to transnational security bodies like FRONTEX—and arranged these disparate pieces in ‘interoperable’ databases and analyzed by ‘seamless’ technological, perceptual, and visual measures. Ultimately the goal is to produce ‘situational awareness’ for border security actors, which envisions a kind of dynamic knowledge of unfolding spaces in real time and the ability to act quickly within them. This paper argues that the ambition for situational awareness rewrites the underlying spatio-temporal logic of border practices in Europe. The topological space-time of situational awareness is to be able to take cues from emergent spaces and their continual transformations and to co-evolve with them in real time. The paper maintains, however, that while this topological imagination produces effects, it does not ultimately replicate its ideal in practice. That is, there is a gap between the topological surveillance imagination and its inability to translate this into practice. This paper explores how the failures and fragilities of the topological translation offer productive inroads for security critique.


Gabriel Popescu (Indiana University & IMéRA)
Cedric Parizot (IMéRA, IREMAM, CNRS-AMU)


Institut Méditerranéen de Recherche Avancées (IMéRA, AMU), Ecole Supérieure d’Art d’Aix en Provence, PACTE (UJF, CNRS), Isabelle Arvers, La compagnie, lieu de création

Image: DAAR, 2015

La Compagnie, Marseille, 2013-2014

Group show
December 13, 2013 – March 1st, 2014
La compagnie, lieu de création, Marseille

Works by Boats 4 people & Forensic Oceanography, Collectif Daar, Masaki Fujihata, Atelier hypermédia, Nicola Mai, Stephanos Mangriotis, Migreurop and Ken Rinaldo
Curated by Isabelle Arvers and Paul-Emmanuel Odin

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Photographs: Myriam Boyer

The antiAtlas of Borders presents collaborative works between hard sciences researchers, social sciences researchers and artists. It produced two unique transdisciplinary works: Samira, an ethno-fiction by Nicola Mai, filmmaker and ethnographer, and a video game on border crossing, A Crossing Industry, which was created by the hypermedia atelier of the Ecole d’Art d’Aix en Provence under the direction of Douglas Edric Stanley drawing on the fieldwork of the anthropologist Cédric Parizot.

The exhibition at La Compagnie follows the one at the Tapestry Museum, offering multiple levels of engagement: visitors will enter a transmedia documentation space and participate in interactive, artistic and transdisciplinary artworks. They will interact directly with video games, wall images or installations created by international artists: Masaki Fujihata associates computer generated imagery with GPS data in order to represent the topographic and temporal coordinates of borders; Kenneth Rinaldo intersects drones with hoovers in the context of a robotic artwork evoking the intrusion of securitizing technologies into the private domain (an exclusive creation for the antiAtlas). We emphasize the dimensions of engagement and participation in order to mirror and show the degree to which we are all directly concerned by the transformation of borders. The public will have access to interactive maps and will be able to participate in workshops on video game diversions regarding these issues. We are also organizing evening screenings and debates on issues including the border economy, border fictions, the camp of Rivesaltes and many others.

La compagnie – creative space continues an experience of welcoming and creating transdisciplinary exhibitions that travel and cross borders. It offers an exhibition space dedicated to the presentation of contemporary images (past events include large installations by Gary Hill and Thierry Kuntzell and photos by Myr Muratet). The space was renovated by the architect Rudy Ricciotti in 1996.


Ken Rinaldo, Drone Eat Drone: American Scream

DAAR Collective, Decolonizing Architecture, 2012

Boats 4 people & Forensic Oceanography, Watch the Med, 2013

Migreurop, , Carte dynamique des étrangers détenus aux frontières des États, 2012

Stephanos Mangriotis, Europa Inch’Allah, 2009-2010

Nicola Mai, Samira, 2013

Hypermédia workshop, A crossing Industry, 2013

Masaki Fujihata, Field Work@Alsace, 2004 – 2005


Le Camp de Rivesaltes: films by Till Roeskens (2005), Serge Lesquer (2009), Claire Angelini, 2011

Border Economy, film by Lucas Bambozzi, De Outro Lado do Rio/Across the River, 2004

Machinima workshop with Isabelle Arvers et Ahmed El Shaer

Online gallery

This gallery completes and augments the exhibitions with artworks, interactive artworks, pieces from videasts and photographers who deal about the questions raised by the antiAtlas:

Clémence Lehec, Laurent Davin, Street art on the separation wall

Magali Daniaux & Cédric Pigot, Cyclone Kingkrab & Piper Sigma

Magali Daniaux & Cédric Pigot, Arctic tactic

Julie Chansel et Michaël Mitz, La machine à expulser

Patrick Lichty, The private life of a drone

Alban Biaussat, The Green(er) Side of the Line

Romain de l’Ecotais, Au pied du mur

Ben Fundis, Clara Long, John Drew, Border stories

Olga Kisseleva, Arctic Conquistadors

Martin De Wulf, Migrations map

Joana Moll, AZ: move and get shot

L’atelier Limo : Simon Brunel, Nicolas Pannetier and Maya Keifenheim, Border Bistro et Enquete frontalière


Institut Méditerranéen de Recherches Avancées (AMU), Marseille
Ecole Supérieure d’Art d’Aix-en-Provence
Laboratoire PACTE (Université de Grenoble Alpes/CNRS)
Isabelle Arvers, commissaire d’exposition indépendante, Marseille
La compagnie, lieu de création à Marseille


Aix-Marseille Université (AMU), Région Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, Réseau Français des Instituts d’Études Avancées (RFIEA), Labex RFIEA+, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), Euborderscapes (Union Européenne, FP7), Institut de Recherches et d’Études sur le Monde Arabe et Musulman (IREMAM – AMU/CNRS), Laboratoire Méditerranéen de Sociologie (LAMES – AMU/CNRS), Laboratoire d’Économie et de Sociologie du Travail (LEST- AMU/CNRS), Laboratoire d’Études et de Recherche sur le Monde Anglophone (LERMA-AMU), Laboratoire d’Arts, Sciences, Technologies pour la Recherche Audiovisuelle Multimédia (ASTRAM-AMU), Maison Méditerranéenne des Sciences de l’Homme (MMSH), LabexMed, Information Media production, Aviso Events, MarseilleProvence 2013 (MP 2013), ville d’Aix-en-Provence, Organisation Mondiale des Douanes (OMD)

Media Partners

Télérama, Arte, PARIS Art, Culture Science en Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, Journal of Borderlands Studies, Perspectives (journal du RFIEA), L’Espace Politique, Ventilo (journal culturel bimensuel), MCD (Musiques et Cultures Digitales), Digitalarti, Poptronics, Digicult

Workshop 9: From Border Economy to Migration Industry

11 octobre 2013
Musée des Tapisseries, Aix en Provence

Olivier Grojean (CERIC, AMU) et Cédric Parizot (IMéRA, IREMAM, CNRS, AMU)

Gabriel Popescu (IMéRA, AMU; Indiana University South Bend, USA)
Privatising Border Making

Ruben Hernandez-Leon (UCLA, USA)
The industry of migration: a “Bastard institution”

Discutant: Antoine Vion (LEST, AMU)


Gabriel Popescu (IMéRA, AMU; Indiana University South Bend, USA)
Privatizing border making

Striving to achieve selective permeability for people and goods, numerous aspects of border making are being privatized. Privatization raises the issue of authority over borders and involves changes in the nature of the actors engaged in border making. In their capacity as territorial limits of the public institution of the state, modern state borders have been historically regulated through public institutions. More recently, numerous governments have delegated certain border management responsibilities to an array of private groups and quasi-public institutions, and even to private citizens. The result has been a blurring of the lines between private and public border-making actors that make it more difficult to establish where accountability for border management lies.

Another privatization-related aspect is that the costs of border securitization are enormous. Border making in the twenty-first century is a worldwide multi-billion-dollar business that are public money invested in border security at a time of massive spending cuts in public education, health care, and other social programs. Such logic begs several questions: What are the benefits of these investments for society? Is the wealth created by public investments in border security worth the losses created by public disinvestment in social programs when it comes to the well-being of societies? Can these billions bring better security returns if strategically invested in the sending societies?

Ruben Hernandez-Leon (UCLA, USA)
The Migration Industry as a Bastard Institution

In this presentation, I advance the conceptualization of the migration industry as a bastard institution.  Coined by sociologist Everett Hughes, bastard institutions are chronic deviations from established institutions, which provide alternative distribution channels of goods and services.  The migration industry can be conceptualized as a bastard institution in that such industry, its actors and infrastructures provide alternatives to state sanctioned mobility across international borders.  Often deemed illegal by states, the migration industry as bastard institution enjoys varying degrees of legitimacy and support from migrants, employers, migration entrepreneurs and other actors of the social field of international migration.     


Olivier Grojean (CERIC, CNRS-AMU)
Cédric Parizot (IMéRA, IREMAM, CNRS-AMU)
Antoine Vion (LEST, AMU)


LabexMed (AMU), IMéRA (Aix-Marseille Université), Ecole supérieure d’Art d’Aix-en-Provence, Laboratoire PACTE (Université de Grenoble), Isabelle Arvers (Marseille), La compagnie (Marseille), IREMAM (CNRS- AMU), LEST (CNRS-AMU)

Photograph: Claude Chuzel, 2006

antiAtlas Conference, Aix-en-Provence, 2013

International Conference – antiAtlas of Borders

Nouveau Conservatoire Darius Milhaud, Aix-en-Provence, France
September 30th to October 2th, 2013

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From 30 September to 2 October 2013, the Conservatoire of Aix en Provence hosts an international conference with participants from the world of humanities and scientific research, artists and professionals participating in the project. This conference will present the project and its results to university researchers, public institutions, politicians and, of course, the general public. An extensive media campaign will ensure wide publicity coverage by the press, radio and television. Holding this conference simultaneously with the opening of the exhibition at the Musée  des Tapisseries reinforces our efforts to break down the barriers between the worlds of research, art and politics.

Representatives of public and private institutions and non-governmental organizations directly involved in issues relating to frontiers are invited to participate in the conference debates: the Secretary General of the World Customs Organization (WCO), academics researching border issues, representatives of companies involved in border crossings (Thales, Cassidian, etc.), politicians, and representatives  of institutions and associations working with migrants (Migreurop, La Cimade, etc.).



Presentation of the antiAtlas Manifesto by Cédric Parizot (IMéRA, IREMAM – CNRS/AMU, France), Anne-Laure Amilhat Szary (PACTE, UJF/CNRS, France), Antoine Vion (LEST, AMU/CNRS, France), Isabelle Arvers (commissaire d’exposition indépendante, France)(fr)

Discussion opening: “Pushing the frontiers of borders studies” by Emmanuel Brunet-Jailly

Border Technologies

Gabriel Popescu (IMéRA, AMU; Indiana University South Bend, USA)
Technological Determinism and the shaping of Mobile Borders

The modern political-territorial organization of the world has been built on a geographical imagination that sees space in absolute terms, as a rigid object that can be broken into quantifiable pieces. In political practice, this has lead to the division of the globe in mutually exclusive territorial units based on linear borders. Recently, we are witnessing a changing geographical imagination to incorporate a polyvalent perspective that acknowledges the relational nature of space and that is more in tune with a notion of space defined by mobility in the form of connections and nodes rather than by territorial proximity and distance decay. Accordingly, we are witnessing the emergence of complementary forms of state borders that depart from the norms of territorial linearity by becoming embedded into flows that can travel and be monitored continuously across space. The shaping of these mobile borders is heavily influenced by digital technologies that are assumed to have predictive powers and are generally conceptualized in terms of unfaltering efficiency and as panacea for securitizing transnational mobility. The problem with such logic behind the incorporation of technology into border making is that it assumes social life can be rendered digitally knowable and thus (mis)constructs border subjects as material objects detached from their social and political contexts. It is essential to clearly understand the limits and the benefits of these border technologies for society in order to assure border governance remains representative of the public interests instead of stifling them.

Hervé Braik (Thalès, France)
New needs and solutions for land border surveillance

Given the overall increase in illegal and criminal activities at state borders, which in some cases include terrorist attacks, many countries have an obligation to strengthen border controls in order not to jeopardise their development and/or to ensure their security. Urgently needing to improve the efficiency of surveilling devices and not being able to recruit thousands of people to monitor borders, governments increasingly choose to equip themselves with integrated surveillance systems.

Andrea Rea (Université Libre de Bruxelles-GERME)
Controlling the Undesirable at the border-network

This paper aims to present the main contemporary approaches of the concept of border. The second part of the paper is dedicated to an alternative approach of the processes of bordering focusing more on the relationship between bordering and mobility rather than bordering and territory as often encountered in the literature. The border is defined as border-network, a network of space-time units (airport, seaport, public space for instance) where the human (bureaucrats at the consulates, border guards, liaison officers, travellers, etc.) and the non-human (databases, laws, procedures) interact with the aim to produce practices of state sovereignty. A special attention will be paid to the relation between Europe and the countries south of the Mediterranean in a third part. Based on the concept of border-network, it is possible to analyse the European mobility policy with regards to the countries south of the Mediterranean, by paying particular attention to the security dispositifs accelerating the mobility of legitimate travellers, on the one hand, and filtering and blocking undesirable people, persons suspected of circumventing immigration laws on the other. Every single person who has to do with mobility is placed under surveillance but some are under control. Last part of the paper will be dedicated to the outline we can produce with the use of border-network concept for the analysis of the control at the airport.

See the slides on Slidehare

Noel Sharkey (Sheffield University, UK)
Keeping them out and keeping us in: the robot border

This talk will examine developments in future robotics technology that could be applied to the protection of borders. The use of unmanned aircraft is already being used to identify border incursions and track ‘offenders’. And there are plans for the use of ground robots to intercept those crossing borders illegally. But this is just the beginning. The next generation of military robots will find their own targets and attack them without human supervision. Currently states are reluctant to give up such developments despite international protest. If they continue, it will only be a matter of time before autonomous robots enter service in the civilian world to help keep out ‘illegal’ immigrants. But in any discussion of the new technologies we must consider their potential misuse to seal us in.

See the slides on Slidehare

Julian Oliver (artist, New Zealand)
EU/US Border bumping project report: network infrastructure and tele-cartography at the edge

Border Bumping is a work of dislocative media that situates cellular telecommunications infrastructure as a disruptive force, challenging the integrity of national borders. As we traverse borders our cellular devices hop from network to network across neighbouring territories, often before or after we ourselves have arrived. These moments, of our device operating in one territory whilst our body continues in another, can be seen to produce a new and contradictory terrain for action. In this lecture, I will present documentation and experiences from the deploying Border Bumping on the U.S./Canada border and throughout the EU. Alongside, he will frame networks as tangible territories, with an emphasis on emerging techno-political challenges in this domain.

Robert Ireland (WCO, Brussels)
New perspectives on the ‘customs supply chain security paradigm

This presentation is a brief history of the emergence of the Customs Supply Chain Security Paradigm, which at its heart was the customs contribution to counter-terrorism following 9/11.  The “new perspectives” in the title are some concluding thoughts on where we are now.  In essence, the Customs Supply Chain Security Paradigm is fading as a prioritized customs policy issue, even for the United States. Following the 9/11 attacks, the paradigm emerged consisting of new national customs policies and World Customs Organization (WCO) standards intended to communicate that international cargo ships would be deterred from being used as  a conduit for the delivery of terrorists or terrorist attacks. This presentation traces the paradigm’s emergence and its upward trajectory which began with the launch of the two key US Customs programmes (C-TPAT and CSI), continued with the adoption of the WCO SAFE Framework of Standards to Secure and Facilitate Global Trade, and reached a climax with the US 100% container scanning law.  It will discuss the major policy themes pushed by the US Government, namely advance cargo information submission requirements, customs risk management, non-intrusive cargo scanning equipment, and security-oriented Authorized Economic Operator (AEO) programmes.  It will then describe where we are now, namely a downward trajectory with the de facto abandonment of 100% scanning and the US budget crisis which foretells fewer resources for the paradigm.

Didier Danet (Responsable du Pôle Action globale et forces terrestres, Centre de recherche des écoles de Saint-Cyr Coëtquidan, France)
120,000 dollars per Wet Back”: what economic rationale for the Smart Border programme at the southern border of the United States?

In raw numerical terms the erection of a “smart border” between the United States and Mexico cost $ 18 billion in 2012 and resulted in the arrest of 357,000 people trying to cross illegally, which means that the cost of intercepting one clandestine amounts to more than 50 thousand dollars. This extremely high cost raises questions about the efficiency of policy implementation and the type of solution it favors, in which the bulk of the effort is focused on the deployment of sophisticated technological devices reinforced by substantial human resources.

The success of the solution adopted is even more important to evaluate since it exerts a powerful attraction on many policy makers, even though the resources that they could mobilize for this purpose are incommensurate with the budgets and time allocated by the U.S. administration in this program. As these dynamics are presented as matters of security and defense, two of the fundamental characteristics of the U.S. program need attention. The first relates to the conditions of implementation of a solution in which technology is presented as the central axis of a policy addressing a global issue with political, economic, and social dimensions. But this is a recurrent theme in the contemporary analysis of safety and defense issues. Secondly, the policy of “smart borders” is integral part of the increasing power of private actors in the implementation or design of sovereign mandates. Without a priori condemning the participation of certain types of private actors in the conduct of a state policy, it is however possible to question the relevance of the solution being implemented.

See the slides on Slidehare

Janna Shadduck-Hernández (UCLA, USA)
Crossing the Line? The political actions and organizing efforts of undocumented youth as responses to current U.S. immigration and border policies

Approximately, 65,000 undocumented high school students graduate from U.S. high schools every year but only 5-10 percent go on to college. Most of the estimated 1.9 million undocumented youth (16-30 years of age) residing in the U.S. are offered little incentive to finish high school, leading to high drop-out rates and no legal opportunities to work. During President Obama’s first term in office unprecedented numbers of undocumented youth and their families were detained and deported.  As a response to the draconian U.S. immigration policies that separate parents and their children and deny undocumented youngsters educational and professional opportunities,  a national youth movement, commonly known as the Dream Movement, has challenged, contested and resisted federal immigration legislation and border control through political organizing, direct action and civic advocacy and education. Hundreds of protests and actions led by undocumented youth are being organized throughout the nation. These include blocking access to federal immigration offices and detention centers; sit-ins in congressional members’ offices; cross border solidarity actions where undocumented families meet through border fences or create bi-national concerts; the public distribution of texts and social media written by undocumented youth; and the highly publicized youth organized self-deportations and self-arrests. In this workshop I will discuss, what conservative policy makers have called,  youth “crossing the line”- the experiences of an ever increasing number of undocumented immigrant youth standing up and directly challenging U.S. government’s border and immigration policies despite their precarious and liminal migration status.

Thomas Cantens (WCO, Brussels, EHESS, Marseille)
Time and money of Borders: the case of transportation corridors in West Africa

This communication is based on empirical data on the public development aid projects and activities undertaken by international organizations in the area of trade regulation and standardization. It will analyze the movement of commodities through borders. The flexibility granted to goods more than to human beings is historically rooted, although it is usually presented within the contemporary intellectual framework related to globalization and development paradigms. This flexibility is connected to wealth circulation and accumulation and the representation of abundance existing beyond the territory or the community. Based on the observation of trade and administrative practices, the communication will explore how borders are spaces of calculations following a specific topology.

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Representation-Fiction at Borders

Jean Cristofol (ESAA, France)
Distance and proximity in a multidimensional space

The physical space in which we live is inseparable from the forms through which we represent it. These forms mobilize objective knowledge, but they also engage an imaginary in which we project ourselves. From this point of view, the physical space is not only the result of our practices. It is inhabited by subjects who identify issues within it . It is defined by fictions and stories.

We inherit these stories and fictions, which implement a continuous space that is based on the opposition of near and far, distance and proximity, here and elsewhere. Borders draw lines of discontinuity between homogeneous entities. The figure of the journey, that of utopia, the themes of the island or the labyrinth, the limit and the crossing are incarnations of such stories. But these figures are not only free constructions of the mind, they are also in correspondence with the forms and media in which they were articulated. They are actually produced by the relationship to the modes of technical and social existence of an era.

When trade and travel are determined by the flow of information and ubiquitous autonomous devices affect our modes of perception and our direct action capabilities, how can we conceive and operate them? What is our relationship to space when it is built in a complexity that disrupts the ways to understand the very meaning of distance or proximity? If the space in which we live and communicate is a complex and multidimensional one, how can we build its representation?

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Anne-Laure Amilhat Szary (PACTE, UJF/CNRS, France) et Sarah Mekdjian (PACTE, UPMF/ CNRS, France)
An Anti-Atlas of lived borders. Sharing the sensitivity of cartographer-migrants

This paper gives an account of a project conducted jointly by researchers, artists and migrants which consisted in mapping, creatively and critically, the migratory in-betweenness. This experience of participatory mapping workshops, located between art and science, also allows to question the methodological issues at stake when tacking in-betweenness within a project involving both creation and research, implying complex inter-relations of all stakeholders. How to create a framework for exchanges between scientists, artists and the invited guests to tell about their migration routes ? On most scientific maps, the spaces crossed by migrants during their travels are often flown over by arrows that indicate the flow or direction of trajectories. The experiences of border crossings are nevertheless very significant in individual migration stories. For people who have no right of residence, the traveled border extends into the so-called reception areas. Thus, in Grenoble, but it could be also in many European cities, travelers still travel… Four mapping devices  between art and science, have been proposed to twelve persons who were either seeking asylum or who had obtained refugee status, with the aim of presenting ” expanded” borders experiences.

Even produced with a participatory methodology, the map is never clear of power struggles. The interaction with the artists helped diversify the power of this mediation tool within the relationships between the different actors of workshops. Accounting of journeys by mapping them has created an original and creative framework for exchanges both during the workshops and now, within an exhibition space. The production of maps on four different media, allowed to bypass the dominant narrative register experienced by asylum seekers, that of chronologically linear life stories required by government agencies. Serving a scientific, artistic and political project, the maps have allowed the emergence of novel forms of ” undisciplined “knowledge.

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Nick Mai (LAMES, AMU/CNRS, France, London Metropolitan University, UK)
Assembling Samira: an antiAtlas art science installation on embodied humanitarian borders

The humanitarian protection of vulnerable migrant groups has enforced new biographical borders. Migrants seek to obtain state benevolence and legal migration status through the performance and embodiment of humanitarian scripts emphasizing victimhood and suffering. Only those whose performances of suffering and humanitarian subjectivities are deemed credible are given humanitarian protection. Gender and sexuality have become strategic narrative repertoires through which humanitarian and biographical borders are inscribed on the bodies of migrants. The Emborders filmmaking/research project reproduces the different performances and narratives of migrants targeted by humanitarian protection as they emerge in interviews with authorities, with social researchers and with peers and families. It draws on real stories and real people, which are performed by actors to protect the identities of the original interviewees and mirror the inherently fictional nature of any narration of the self. By using actors to reproduce real people and real life histories, the project ultimately challenges what constitutes a credible and acceptable reality in scientific, filmic and humanitarian terms.

Samira is a two-screen art science installation presenting the story of Karim. It assembles different ethnographic moments and scripts as they emerged through ethnographic fieldwork in Marseille. Karim is an Algerian migrant man selling sex as SAMIRA at night in Marseille. He left Algeria as a young man as her breasts started developing as a result of taking hormones and was granted asylum in France as a transgender woman. Twenty years later, as his father is dying and he is about to become the head of the family Samira surgically removes her breasts and marries a woman in order to get a new passport allowing him to return to Algeria to assume his new role. SAMIRA (Emborders 1) is the first of Emborders’ 4 installation/movies. It was produced by IMeRA in co-operation with SATIS (Departement Sciences Arts et Techniques de l’image et du Son of the Aix-Marseille University) and will be presented at the antiAtlas exhibition.

See the slides on Slidehare

Micha Cardenas (University of Southern California, USA)
The transborder immigrant tool: science of the oppressed

Science of the Oppressed, a term first used by the feminist philosopher Monique Wittig, and later adopted by the “artivist” collectives *particle group* and the Electronic Disturbance Theater 2.0, proposes an approach to knowledge production that does not claim an objective stance, or a profit motivated stance, but is informed by an experience of oppression and is aimed at creating social justice. In this performative talk I will discuss my collaboration with the Electronic Disturbance Theater 2.0 to create the Transborder Immigrant Tool, a dislocative media tool and media virus designed to provide poetic and physical sustenance to people crossing the Mexico/US Border. My work on this project led to my own further practices of Science of the Oppressed on a later project called Local Autonomy Networks / Autonets with the aim of building community based networks, both digital and post-digital, to prevent violence against transgender women of color, disabled people and sex workers. Autonets extends Science of the Oppressed with Femme Science and Femme Disturbance through relationship building as a strategy to build a world without prisons.

Borders, flows and networks

Ruben Hernandez Leon (UCLA)
The migration industry: charting the Relations of facilitators, control and rescue actors in international migration

See the slides on Slidehare

In this presentation I argue that the migration industry plays a more significant role in structuring human mobility across borders than has been acknowledged by most theories of international migration.  I first identify three forms of the migration industry: classic migration facilitators, the booming industry of migration control, and the so-called rescue industry.  I then use Zolberg’s “Strange Bedfellows of American Immigration Politics,” a theoretical construct which explains the unusual alliances different actors establish in the field of immigration, to chart the location and relations of the migration industry with these actors.  Finally, I account for the movement of actors across various divides (the profit/not-for-profit boundary, facilitation versus control, and the pro and anti-immigrant divide), demonstrating how these actors establish regular connections by means of multiple bridges and overlapping infrastructures.

Cédric Parizot (IMéRA, IREMAM, AMU/CNRS, France), Antoine Vion (LEST, AMU/CNRS, France), Wouter van den Broeck (Addith, Belgium)
“Israel Palestine below maps”: an anthropological experience of networks across the wall

“Israel Palestine below maps” is a project of dynamic visualization of the relational chains developed by an anthropologist throughout his field work withtin the Israeli Palestinian space (2005-2010). This exploratory work involves an anthropologist (Cedric Parizot), a sociologist (Antoine Vion) and a specialist of complex data visualization (Wouter Van den Broeck). The first aim of this project is to provide a different understanding of the interconnectedness between Israeli and Palestinian spaces. The second aim is to confront the three researchers to unfamiliar practices, methodologies and data coming from other disciplines. One the one hand, the anthropologist is bound to operate a radical refocusing of his data, which resorts to a higher level of abstraction. While losing temporarily the precision of anthropological observation, this dynamic visualization offers a more global understanding of the social world he was inserted in. One the other hand, this experiment provides the sociologist together with the anthropologist a better sight on the condition of production of this knowledge, not merely by taking into account that this data is situated in specific places, time and interactions, but more particularl by stressing that the anthropologist and the sociologist are integral part of the border-network they intend to decipher. In other words, this project involves the anthropologist and the sociologist both as researchers and as objects of the research they perform. Finally, by tackling a different kind of complex network (involving fewer individuals but more complex layers of interactions), Wouter van den Broeck intends to experiment a new semiology in network mapping applicable to the study of networks drawn from qualitative research.

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Olivier Clochard (MIGRINTER, CNRS, MIGEUROP, France) et Laurence Pillant (TELEMME, AMU/CNRS, France)
Connected camps: detention places in Europe and beyond

Although camps imprisoning migrants in Europe each have their peculiarities and unique history, the rationale for their existence, as well as theiur underlying legal, political and economic dynamics are similar and are part of a common process. Adopting a network approach highlights the places now constituting the reticular borders of the Schengen area and of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP), which allows the authorities to implement boundaries that include territories laying within and outside the European union. The aim here is to define the scale and the extent of the networks linking the migrant camps. The cartographic analysis of this network allows us to understand and make visible the phenomenon of regional enclosure implemented by the European migration control.

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Joana Moll (artist, Spain)
“Move and get shot”: Surveillance through social networks along the US-Mexico Border

“The Texas Border” and “AZ: move and get shot” are two net-based artworks which explore the phenomenon of surveillance on the internet carried out by civilians on the border between Mexico and the US. Many of these online platforms appeared during the rise of the social networking service whose structure was adopted as a cheaper and more efficient alternative way to monitor the border. Thus, the recreational activity became a tool for militarizing the civil society. This talk will expose the research process behind the two artworks and will analyze the evolution of some of these net based platforms from its inception to the present.

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Federica Infantino (FNRS/Université Libre de Bruxelles (Cevipol), Sciences Po Paris
Bordering at the nonstate window. The effects of the outsourcing to private service providers on the visa policy implementation in Casablanca

This contribution explores state responses to immigration based on the shifts in mode of regulation involving non-state actors (Guiraudon & Lahav, 2000). It focuses on the case of Schengen States cooperating with private service providers to implement the visa policy. The paper applies the street-level, implementation theoretical framework to an unusual field of inquiry: bordering policy rather than welfare policy. The paper draws on the case of visa services outsourcing in Morocco and is based on in-depth fieldwork research (12 months) carried out at the consulates of Belgium, France, Italy, and their relative visa application centres in Casablanca. The aim is twofold: first, tracing the processes leading to public/private governance as an emerging mode of the Schengen border management; second, questioning how public/private cooperation changes the conditions in which the visa policy is implemented therefore changing the policy outcomes. By putting forward how the conditions in which the visa policy is implemented change, the paper will argue that the determinants of the convergence of the Schengen visa policy outcomes are organizational factors determined by public/private cooperation.

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Materialization-Dematerialization of Borders

Steve Wright (Reader in Applied Global Ethics, Leeds Metropolitan University, UK)
Corporate military management approaches to climate change: from refuge to exclusion

If we are to adequately anticipate and accurately judge the likely trajectory of future responses to climate change, a working assumption must be that the probabilities are that elite, state and corporate “solutions” over the next 50 years will be necessary, but not sufficient. For several nations this may mean the end; others will be faced with substantial internal migration and for others a mass exodus to foreign shores, as people struggle to find continuity. This presentation assumes that preparations to meet these challenges will be wholly inadequate. States will be panicked into emergency measures, including deep clamps on freedom of movement. Past analyses have treated such scenarios as environmental disasters but this presentation sees such scenarios as emergency planning options which have already been structured into state planning. What can we expect when continuity of energy and food supply chains can no longer be guaranteed? Wright will present evidence that many military organisations are already working on responses to climate change from a state security rather than a human security perspective. What does this entail?

Essentially, two interrelated processes kick in: one informatics based; the other focussed on technologies for systematic physical exclusion of unauthorized citizens, based on a wide variety of emergent coercive capacities. States already have tough systems at borders to prevent anyone without documentation passing and these are becoming increasingly sophisticated with various biometric recognition, surveillance and tracking capabilities. Face recognition and vehicle tracking systems originally designed in response to the “war against terror,” can be rapidly re-orientated towards climate change refugees. Such people will not be officially designated as such, since the general derogatory label of illegal immigrants will facilitate a legal exclusion response because climate change refugees have no legal status. We are already witnessing a security paradigm shift amongst key military powers to reframe climate change, as a major security threat. Similarly, the military, police, media entertainment, university security complex is already refining its capability set towards new measures, to ensure border security and zone exclusion. This new capability sets already include non-human algorithms and robotic elements for patrolling long borders and a wide variety of sub-lethal weaponry has emerged which can either be fired at crowds by humans or operated by machine intelligence. But how probable are such deployments?

I will explore the current reconfiguration of the major manufactures of intelligent fencing systems; unmanned ariel vehicles, robotic security and patrolling systems as well as lethal and sub-lethal weapons technologies and doctrines to meet the demands of these new markets. The presentation ends with a discussion of some ethical dilemmas of how to respond to such technical fixing. Should we acquiesce (which may be tantamount to collusion), or should we engage in research activism to reveal social and political consequences of existing fence systems like those recently erected in Bangladesh.. Such uneasy ethics will be at the core of any future intelligent policy response to climate-induced mass migration. Do we build resilience into modern architectures and infrastructure or a fortress: a human or an inhumane menu of future solutions?

Amaël Cattaruzza (CREC Saint-Cyr Coëtquidan, France)
Wall or Network: Debate on Border Control

This presentation is based on an observation: border security is oscillating between two complementary architectures: the “wall” and the “network”. Walls are physical barriers, which make possible to canalize material and human flows, and to check them at a checkpoint, or any passage-point. Networks are the interconnected intelligence agencies, which allow gathering and cross-checking data in order to anticipate, to identify and to trace out all kind of flows (Frontex and Eurasur model). Both control disposals have to be questioned and to be evaluated. Wall is expensive and creates an economy of smuggling, which leads to be suspicious on its real efficiency. Network makes the border control move from physical place to virtual and centralized databases. But the emergence of this virtual control, without any democratic debate, requires new thoughts about the validity, the processing, the storage, and the safeguarding of the collected data.

See the slides on Slidehare

Stéphane Rosière (Université de Reims, France)
International borders between materialization and dematerialization

Contemporary international borders are characterized by seemingly contradictory process of, on the one hand, virtualization and erasure and, on the other hand, materialization. Virtualization is the result of the increasing porosity of borders that are crossed by increasingly significant flows. Under the pressure of such flows boundaries tend to disappear or become ‘discrete’. They are also characterised by dynamics of delinearization and deterritorialization (development of dot-like frontiers as in the case of airports). At the same time, boundaries are marked by a process of materialization, with the construction of many “barriers” (Israel, United States, Saudi Arabia, Ceuta and Melilla, etc.), which are often called “walls”. This presentation will attempt to show how these dynamic, far from being contradictory, are rather linked according to a process of hierarchical ordering of flows within which people seem to be more problematic than goods…

See the slides on Slidehare

Mariya Polner  (WCO, Brussels)
Border Control Technologies: General Trends & Patterns of Development

The protection of sovereignty has always been the major task of the state since its inception, along with another important function of differentiating ‘us’ from ‘them’. Thus, borders serve not only as gateways to a particular territory, but also as a manifestation of the state sovereignty. At the same time, in a globalised world where interconnectedness and integration are key dynamics influencing economic growth and social development, policymakers are increasingly realizing the need for accelerated border management regulatory reform to reduce unnecessary barriers and burdens on trade. The dilemma of balancing security (and to a certain extent, state sovereignty) and trade facilitation pushed both states and international organizations to seek for different solutions, enshrined in a whole body of newly created policies and standards. This presentation will touch upon a small part of the overall border management ‘machinery’: border control technologies. Along with the technological progress, border agencies have been reinventing themselves, as well as the way they were operating due to the new tools used in daily operations. Therefore, tracking the development of border technologies provides an interesting insight on the functioning of the state and its policies.

See the slides on Slidehare

Charles Heller (Centre for Research Architecture, Goldsmiths College, University of London/ Watch The Med project)
The EU’s maritime frontier: striating the sea

Because any trace on water seems to be immediately dissolved by currents, the seas have long been associated with a permanent present, that resists any writing of history. The infinite liquid expanse has equally represented a challenge for governance: the impossibility of drawing stable boundaries in ever changing waters has led to consider the seas as a space of absolute freedom and flow – the “free seas”. In this presentation, I will show that on the contrary, the seas are increasingly documented and divided, and inextricably so. A complex sensing apparatus is fundamental to a form of governance that combines the division of maritime spaces and the control of movement, and that instrumentalises the partial, overlapping, and “elastic” nature of maritime jurisdictions and international law. It is in these conditions that the EU imposed migration regime operates, selectively expanding sovereign rights through patrols in the high seas but also retracting from responsibility, as in the many instances of non-assistance to migrants at sea. Through the policies and the conditions of maritime governance organized by the EU the sea is turned into a deadly liquid – the direct cause of over 13.000 documented deaths over the last 15 years. However, by using the Mediterranean’s remote sensing apparatus against the grain and spatialising violations of migrants’ rights at sea, I will demonstrate that it is possible to re-inscribe responsibility into a sea of impunity.

Organisation Committee

Cédric Parizot – anthropoloist, coordinator, IREMAM (AMU/CNRS), Aix-en-Provence
Anne-Laure Amilhat-Szary – geographer, PACTE (Université de Grenoble Alpes/CNRS)
Isabelle Arvers – independent curator, Marseille
Jean Cristofol – philosopher, École Supérieure d’Art d’Aix-en-Provence
Nicola Mai – anthropoloist and film maker, LAMES (AMU/CNRS), London Metropolitan University, Londres
Joana Moll – artist
Gabriel Popescu – geographer, Indiana University


Institut Méditerranéen de Recherches Avancées (AMU), Marseille
Ecole Supérieure d’Art d’Aix-en-Provence
Laboratoire PACTE (Université de Grenoble Alpes/CNRS)
Isabelle Arvers, commissaire d’exposition indépendante, Marseille
La compagnie, lieu de création à Marseille


Aix-Marseille Université (AMU), Région Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, Réseau Français des Instituts d’Études Avancées (RFIEA), Labex RFIEA+, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), Euborderscapes (Union Européenne, FP7), Institut de Recherches et d’Études sur le Monde Arabe et Musulman (IREMAM – AMU/CNRS), Laboratoire Méditerranéen de Sociologie (LAMES – AMU/CNRS), Laboratoire d’Économie et de Sociologie du Travail (LEST- AMU/CNRS), Laboratoire d’Études et de Recherche sur le Monde Anglophone (LERMA-AMU), Laboratoire d’Arts, Sciences, Technologies pour la Recherche Audiovisuelle Multimédia (ASTRAM-AMU), Maison Méditerranéenne des Sciences de l’Homme (MMSH), LabexMed, Information Media production, Aviso Events, Marseille-Provence 2013 (MP 2013), ville d’Aix-en-Provence, Organisation Mondiale des Douanes (OMD).

Media Partners

Télérama, Arte, Culture Science en Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, Journal of Borderlands Studies, Perspectives (journal du RFIEA), L’Espace Politique, Ventilo (journal culturel bimensuel) , MCD (Musiques et Cultures Digitales) , Digitalarti , Poptronics.

Tapestry Museum, Aix-en-Provence, 2013

Group show
October 1st – November 3th, 2013
Tapestry Museum, Aix-en-Provence

Works by: Ian Howard, Amy Franceschini, Ken Rinaldo, Hackitectura, Claude Chuzel, Stéphane Rosière, Philippe Rekacewicz, RYBN, Gold Extra, Till Roeskens, Dana Diminescu, Nicola Mai, Sigalit Landau, Heath Bunting, Joana Moll & Heliodoro Santos, The Electronic Disturbance Theater 2.0 / b.a.n.g. lab., Micha Cardenas, Brett Stalbaum, Ricardo Dominguez, Amy Sara Carroll, Elle Mehrmand, Francis Alys, Fabien Fischer, Lauriane Houbey, Sarah Mekdjian et Anne-Laure Amilhat-Szary, Marie Moreau, Simona Koch. Curated by Isabelle Arvers.

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Photographs © Myriam Boyer

More than a mere cartographical project, antiAtlas takes an innovative approach to State frontiers, whether terrestrial or maritime, aerial or virtual, and the way in which people interact with them in the 21st century. The AntiAtlas of border initiative will consist of two interlinked exhibitions. The first will take place in Aix-en-Provence at the Musée des Tapisseries from 1 October to 3 November 2013. The second will take place in Marseille at La Compagnie creative arts centre from 13 December to 1 March 2014.

These two exhibitions present artworks inspired by the collective energies of humanities and science researchers and artists. Visitors will be offered a variety of ways for analyzing and participating as they enter a transmedia documentary space and participate in hands-on exhibits in this presentation of innovative artistic and transdisciplinary artworks. Displays include photos and videos contributed by the general public and migrants with their impressions of approaching and crossing frontiers.The two exhibitions will present creations and innovative work performed by social scientists who have collaborated with hard scientists and artists. The exhibitions will provide several levels of reading and forms of participation. Not only visitors will be able to contemplate art and transdisciplinary work, but they will also be able to make use of transmedia documentation and participate in experiments. They will get in close interaction with robots, drones, video games and specific devices. The objective is to challenge the contemplative relation between visitors and objects proposed in the exhibition. The exhibition will thus help visitors to experience to what extent they are themselves directly affected by the changes at borders in the 21st century.

Scenario of the exhibitions

Escalation of border security and technology
The fall of the Berlin Wall and globalization process raised the fantasy of a borderless world. However, today’s multiplication of walls and barriers offers a different reality. The escalation of security on land, at sea, in the air and on internet in Europe and the rest of the world has radically transformed the very nature of borders and how they operate. In order to adapt to the acceleration of movement of people, goods and information, control systems are increasingly detaching themselves from territory and creating reticular or punctiform borders, or even being transposed into the bodies of individuals.

Borders, flux and networks
Border control systems create disjunctions between movement of people, goods and money, as well as creating disjunctions between their degrees of fluidity. Whereas the movement of goods and money are eased, that of people is being subjected to increasingly strict controls. These control systems have severely affected the movement of migrants and the dynamics of migration, and have dramatically increased the human dramas that occur at borders.

Controls, spaces and territories
Tightening of controls on mobility in a world in which the development of communications is rapidly increasing fosters the creation of asymmetrical and disconnected spaces and worlds. The exhibition shows how mobile groups as well as researchers and artists react and adapt to these conditions by developing new forms of sociability and practices. The works displayed emphasize the limits of classic cartography in highlighting the spaces inhabited and reconstructed by mobile and border populations.

The incorporation and biographization of borders
In becoming more complex entities, borders are shifting away from being just geographic spaces to incorporate themselves into human bodies. The individualization of controls and the definition of bio-social profiles do not lead only to the creation of new hierarchies that define different mobility rights between citizens and non-citizens, they also give rise to the incorporation of control and a “biographization” of the border. In order not to be identified and put on record through their fingerprints, some migrants burn or sand their fingers; others invent a new national identity, personal history and sometimes even sexual identity to benefit from protection programs and humanitarian assistance to prevent deportation.

Hijacking borders
The state is no longer the only actor at borders. Migration policies and control systems are implemented within the framework of complex agreements between governments and a throng of stakeholders, public and private, who work below or above the state. The tightening of controls prompts the people who pass through them to readjust their practices, itineraries and methods of crossing. When they are not entitled to pass, they are obliged to turn to groups that specialize in obviating physical obstacles (walls, barriers, etc.), surveillance systems (radar, drones, biometric systems), legal requirements (visas, travel permits, work contracts, etc.) or virtual barriers. Increased security measures at borders always increase opportunities for smugglers and the fabricators of false papers. Benefiting from a heightened demand and weaknesses in the systems, these entrepreneurial individuals create a complex social and political economy. Researchers and artists also participate in this economy, to study, highlight its dynamics or disrupt it.

Artists and research works exhibited

Ian Howard, Walls, 2004-2011

Amy Franceschini, Finger Print Maze, 2003

Ken Rinaldo, Paparazzi Bots, 2009

Hackitectura, Cartographie critique de Gibraltar, 2004

Claude Chuzel, X-ray, 2006

Stéphane Rosière, Planisphère des frontières fermées, 2012

Philippe Rekacewicz, Cartographie, 2012

RYBN, Robot ADM8, 2011

Gold Extra, Frontiers the game, 2012

Till Roeskens, Videomappings : Aida, Palestine, 2009

Dana Diminescu, E-diasporas, 2012

Nicola Mai, Samira (Emborders 1), 2013

Sigalit Landau, Barbed Hula, 2000

Heath Bunting, BorderXing, 2002

Joana Moll & Heliodoro Santos, The Texas Border, 2010

The Electronic Disturbance Theater 2.0 / b.a.n.g. lab., Micha Cardenas, Brett Stalbaum, Ricardo Dominguez, Amy Sara Carroll, Elle Mehrmand, The Transborder Immigrant Tool, 2009

Francis Alys, Sometimes doing something poetic can become political and sometimes doing something political can become poetic, 2004-2005

Fabien Fischer, Lauriane Houbey, Sarah Mekdjian et Anne-Laure Amilhat-Szary, Marie Moreau, Crossing Maps, Cartographies transverses, 2013

Simona Koch, Borders, 2010

Online gallery

This gallery completes and augments the exhibitions with artworks, interactive artworks, pieces from videasts and photographers who deal about the questions raised by the antiAtlas. Artists and works on the online gallery:

Magali Daniaux & Cédric Pigot, Cyclone Kingkrab & Piper Sigma

Magali Daniaux & Cédric Pigot, Arctic tactic

Julie Chansel & Michaël Mitz, La machine à expulser

Patrick Lichty, The private life of a drone

Alban Biaussat, The Green(er) Side of the Line

Romain de l’Ecotais, Au pied du mur

Ben Fundis, Clara Long, John Drew, Border stories

Olga Kisseleva, Arctic Conquistadors

Martin De Wulf, Migrations map

Joana Moll, AZ: move and get shot

L’atelier Limo : Simon Brunel, Nicolas Pannetier et Maya Keifenheim, Border Bistro, Enquête frontalière


This exhibition is one of the “steps” of “Ulysses’ trajectory”, a major event of Marseille-Provence 2013 supported by the Frac (Regional Fund for Contemporary Art). The whole event is co-produced by the Mediterranean Institute for Advanced Research (IMéRA), the Aix-en-Provence School of Art (ESAA), the PACTE laboratory (University of Grenoble-CNRS) , La compagnie, lieu de création, and Isabelle Arvers, independent curator.

Nicola Mai – Samira – Emborders #1

Nicola Mai
Samira – Emborders #1
Visit the project

Samira is a 25 minutes two-screen art-science installation presenting an ethnographic account of the life history of Karim, an Algerian migrant man selling sex as a travesti at night in Marseille. Karim left Algeria as a young man as his breasts started developing as a result of taking hormones. He was granted asylum in France as a transgender woman, Samira. Twenty years later, as his father is dying and he is about to become the head of the family Samira surgically removes her breasts and marries a woman in order to get a new passport allowing him to return to Algeria to assume his new role.

Samira is part of the Emborders art science project questioning questions the effectiveness and scope of humanitarian initiatives targeting migrant sex workers and sexual minority asylum seekers. In order to get their rights recognised and avoid deportation migrant women, men and transgender people reassemble their bodies and perform their subjectivities according to standardised victimhood, vulnerability and gender/sex scripts. In the process only a minority of migrants targeted by anti-trafficking interventions and applying for asylum obtain protection, refugee status and the associated rights. The vast majority are treated as collateral damage and become either irregularly resident in immigration countries or forcefully deported against their will and in often dangerous circumstances to their countries of origin. Between 2014 and 2015 the Emborders project will explore these dynamics through 3 more  ethni-fictional installations, which will also be edited in the form of a one-screen movie, on the life and migration trajectories of sexual minority migrants, asylum seekers and refugees in Marseille, Paris and London.

Nicola Mai is an ethnographer and filmmaker working as Professor of Sociology Migration Studies at London Metropolitan University. His main research interest is the negotiation of gender, sexuality and subjectivity through the migration process, with particular reference to the globalised sex industry as a contested and ambivalent space of control and autonomy. In his academic work and films, Nick problematises prevailing understandings of the global sex trade as characterised by exploitation and victimisation, by showing the complexity of the subjective investments of the people involved.