The migrancy of maps: Cartographic attachments of the Mediterranean migration crisis

Authors: Laura Lo Presti*, University of Padova
Topics: Migration, Cultural Geography, Cartography
Keywords: visual mobilities, critical cartographies of migration, evocative objects
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/8/2020
Start / End Time: 11:10 AM / 12:25 PM
Room: Plaza Ballroom E, Sheraton, Concourse Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Considering the migrancy of maps as the multiple emotional inclinations and political scripts performed by cartographic objects in the (anti-)immigration discourse, in this contribution I explore the multi-sensory cartographic attachments of the Mediterranean migration crisis. Over the past decade, the political and cultural imaginary of Europe has been indeed restlessly shaped by the movement of migrants but also by the infrastructure and objects that sculpt it. Maps, in particular, became both navigational tools and evocative appearances of the migration crisis, visually speaking of the present im-mobility condition and of what counts as human. For instance, since 2015, several flow maps reproduced migration as a threatening invasion. Yet, right on the surfaces of maps, the fingers of many people struggle to find safe routes through several African and European countries; for activists and coast guards, the tracking of shipwrecks’ events in the Mediterranean Sea would not be real-time possible without the use of GPS technologies and sensors; wall maps of Europe are even materialized in refugee camps, giving hope to migrants who dream through them their deferred space of arrival; moreover, many NGOs and artists are developing mapping projects to inform the audience on the criticalities of migration but also to help refugees to elaborate their traumatic experiences. Following the journey of several institutional and peripheral cartographic objects, I hence reconstruct the techno-political matrix and cultural-affective ecology through which maps assemble, elicit and embody a plethora of discourses, actions and feelings about the migration crisis and the dehumanization of Europe.

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