[-empyre-] Tactical Media, Research, and the University

Geert Lovink geert at xs4all.nl
Mon Apr 12 18:45:38 EST 2010

Dear all,

thanks to all for kicking this off.

In this first posting I would like to frame the Trans Migration Tool  
from an activist perspective. One of the many strategies to show  
solidarity would be to put the Trans Migration Tool in comparison with  
similar (tactical) media strategies, tools and fights. The strategy to  
frame it within the university, academic freedom and so one is another  
one. I will would like to write about that later.

I plunged in this topic in the eighties when I got involved in a West- 
Berlin group that married East-Berlin activists to get them out of  
communist East-Germany. After 1989 the emphasis changed from  
solidarity with (Central and Latin-American) refugees to support  
campagnes of illegalized immigrants. It is important to notice the  
shift from refugees to immigrants. I am not sure if I agree with it  
but I can see that it is a longterm political reality. There are less  
and less refugees that make it into Western countries, and they are  
more and more isolated from society, hidden in camps and detention  
centres. Only a tiny amount of them reach a legal status. These days  
most of the refugees are 'contained' in their own region of conflict.  
For activists this meant a slow move towards the issue of border  
regimes and more work and income related issues of the 'sans papiers'.  
This means that we have to face a shift in society from political  
solidarity with those who suffered from war and dictatorship, towards  
a much more complex economic globalization and social justice.

As far as I can see this shift happened in the 1990s. I got involved  
in the No Borders/No One is Illegal movement in 1997. Interesting to  
mention here is the fact that even amongst radical activists the No  
Borders demand was and remained controversial. We can also find this  
in the work of Ricardo Dominguez and his friends. It is truely utopian  
work. Realize the utopian, in action and the arts, and sooner or  
later, society will follow. Or not. And then it will remain utopian.  
Who knows. Europe has got a lot less borders in comparison to 20 years  
ago. True, there are new ones. And they are worth fighting against.

Some projects:

http://www.noborder.org/. The European network of migrants and asylum  
seekers support campaigns, founded in 2000. Next day of action: June  

Please also pay attention to the anti-Frontex campaign, the EU agency  
for 'external border security' that organizes the flight to deport  
migrants. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frontex and http://www.allincluded.nl/index.php/actie/23/211

Some migration maps: http://www.allincluded.nl/index.php/maps-migration.

An art project similar to the Trans Migration Tool by German  
sculpturer and radio maker Ralf Homann and friends called Schleuser.net.

Even if you cannot read Dutch, this is worth looking at. A book by the  
Dutch journalist Kees Broere who wrote the following sequel for De  
Volkskrant: http://www.volkskrant.nl/buitenland/article1187549.ece. He  
travelled with a group of Africans from Accra (Ghana) to Amsterdam  
(NL), a dangerous journey that ends quite sadly in the outskirts of  
Amsterdam where life of illegal Africans is tough.

In solidarity,

Geert Lovink

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