Publication of “The antiAtlas of Borders, A Manifesto”, Journal of Borderlands Studies


The antiAtlas of Borders is an experimentation at the crossroads of research, art and practice. It was launched in 2011 at the Mediterranean Institute of Advanced Studies (Aix Marseille University), and has been co-produced by the Higher School of Art (Aix en Provence), PACTE laboratory (University of Grenoble-CNRS), Isabelle Arvers and La compagnie. Since then, it has gathered researchers (social and hard scientists), artists (web artists, tactical geographers, hackers, filmmakers, etc.) and professionals (customs, industry, military, etc.). The encounter of people coming from these different fields of knowledge and practice aims to create a radical shift of perspective in the way we apprehend both 21stcentury borders and the boundaries separating fields of knowledge, art and practice.

Download the article 

Download the manuscript on HAL SHS 

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

Crossing maps

This alternative mapping is at the intersection of humanities and art. It is the outcome of an experimental and participatory mapping workshop that involved travelers, artists and researchers. Mapping is treated as a creative technique to reveal experiences. The maps produced with travelers evoke memories of journeys and migratory adventure.

Started in 2013 in Grenoble France, it developed as a collaborative work by two researchers in geography, three artists, and twelve inhabitants of Grenoble (men and women) who are or have been asylum seekers. In a context where government agencies require ‘verifiable’ stories before deciding whether or not to grant asylum, our research/creation project Cartographies traverses/Crossing Maps did not focus on truth or referentiality.

Our objective was to challenge the notion of “truth”, as described above, by co-producing maps of migratory experiences: not as stories or testimonies that are true or false, nor as referential material but as referential and non-referential discourses. We invited asylum seekers to work with forms of expression that do not echo the interactions prevailing in governmental agencies. In our discussions, we did not ask questions. Rather than ask participants to “tell their story”, we invited them to draw freehand maps on paper or cloth, without references to maps (avoiding truth or untruth), and without judgment (“well done = badly done = not done”, Filliou, 1968). This work raised issues about how to develop a co-production with people having very different and unequal status (artist, researcher, asylum seeker): we were trying here to revisit these asymmetries and complementarities.

For more elements on this project, see the article of Sarah Mekdjian and Marie Moreau “Re-drawing the experience: Art, science and migratory conditions”, antiAtlas Journal, 01 | 2016, [Online]