[-empyre-] Alter-mapping, alter-passage, and altering-art

Alva Mooses alva.mooses at gmail.com
Tue Feb 16 16:08:42 AEDT 2016

Hello to you all and I look forward to being part of the conversation this
week. I will briefly introduce myself and recent thoughts I have had on
moving across national borders:

I’m from Chicago originally and have been living in NYC for over a decade.
My mother is from just outside of Mexico City and my father is a
Greek-American. Growing up, I was often sent to Coahuila, Mexico, where
most of my mother’s family is from to spend the summer months with my
great-grandparents and large extended family. Sometimes I would get picked
up in Laredo, Texas by an uncle or aunt. From an early age I experienced
crossing the US/Mexico border and the cultural disconnects and overlaps
produced by the seemingly arbitrary line.

I have most recently been looking at migration politics in the context of
Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Last year I was doing a three month art
residency in the east of the Dominican Republic. I traveled with my partner
by bus, from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic to Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
There had been strong discouragement to make this journey from the
Dominican side due to protests and militarization of the border. After
communicating with people on the Haitian side, we finally decided we would
go anyway. We wanted to gain a better understanding of the two nations
which while sharing one island, are so deeply divided.

Driving through the fragmented Haitian-­Dominican borderlands one could see
the consequences of radical deforestation: collapsed hillsides, barren
land, flooded lakes, and relocation camps.

I have passed through many political boundaries in different parts of the
world and observed the fences as demarcations on landscapes in relation to
the geography. How does the landscape inform or shape a border and how does
a border in turn re­shape the land?

There is a long history of political and social tension between the
Dominican Republic and Haiti rooted in the colonization of the island, the
Haitian Revolution and the Trujillo dictatorship. Haitians in the Dominican
Republic are treated as if they are lesser humans, working as indentured
servants primarily in agriculture and the service industry, essentially
living in serfdom.

A court ruling in the Dominican Republic has led to recent mass deportation
of Dominican-born Haitians, that involved the denial of identity documents
and has stripped them of their nationality. The long-standing xenophobia in
the Dominican Republic towards Haitians has left hundreds of thousands of
people in a legal limbo – stateless and not recognised as a citizen by
Haiti or the Dominican Republic.

While the situation in Syria makes the topic of human migration more
present internationally, it reminds me that human migration is neither new
nor specific to one place.

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