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Fonds National Suisse de la Recherche Scientifique (FNSRS) 2021

Confronting Hostile Terrains

Migration Routes Border Death

Titre : Confronting Hostile Terrains

Numéro  : 194661

Début/Fin : 01.06.2021 – 30.09.2021

Requérant  : Gerhild Perl, (Universität Trier) — Darcy Alexandra (Institut für Sozialanthropologie Philosophisch-historische Fakultät Universität Bern)

Présentation partielle
Border death is a global phenomenon. Since the 1990s, the European Union and the United States have increasingly tightened their external borders, ideologically conceptualizing migrants as threats to national security. Consequently, walls have been built, fences erected, military and surveillance technologies employed at sea and on land to prevent people from the Global South from entering wealthier and more stable states. The hardening of border controls, however, has not necessarily led to a decrease of irregular entries. Instead, it has shifted migration routes, increasing the perils of cross-border journeys as people continue to seek family reunification, freedom from violence and discrimination, employment, education, and better life opportunities. To circumvent the highly monitored borders, migrants are forced to choose longer and thus riskier routes through hostile terrains such as the North American Sonoran Desert (De León 2015), and the Mediterranean Sea (Perl 2018). Over the course of thirty years now, thousands of migrants have died or gone missing in their attempt to cross national frontiers. As anthropologists who research migration in the Mediterranean and North American regions, we seek to communicate the political causes and existential consequences of lethal border politics, to humanize the often-anonymous victims of brutal border regimes, and to join a global initiative that creates dialogue across and beyond borders through the memorialization of the thousands of people who have died in search of a viable future. While Swiss and European media report regularly on deadly shipwrecks, smuggling networks, rescue operations and enforced migration policies in the European and Mediterranean contexts, little is reported about border policies and their lethal consequences in the North American borderlands, despite the tragic similarities. Thus, with the proposed communication project “Confronting Hostile Terrains” we aim to raise awareness of border death as a global phenomenon and open creative discussions between a concerned public of non-specialists, migration scholars, students, volunteers and activists. To meet these objectives, our project invites members from the Undocumented Migration Project (UMP), a non-profit research-art-education-media collective directed by UCLA anthropologist Jason De León, and their participatory art exhibition “Hostile Terrain 94” to Bern. During the fall of 2020, “Hostile Terrain 94” will simultaneously take place at 150 locations throughout the Americas, Europe, Africa and Australia. This exhibition is comprised of approximately 3,500 handwritten ID tags that identify migrants who have died trying to cross the Sonoran Desert of Arizona between the mid-1990s and 2019. These tags represent the recovered bodies of those who have perished and are geo-located on a wall map of the desert showing the exact locations where migration researchers have recovered and documented the remains (Figure 1). Hosting “Hostile Terrain 94” in Bern offers a unique opportunity for Switzerland to participate in this global dialogue about border death and our responsibility as a concerned public

Financement : 19 840 CHF

Fonds National Suisse de la Recherche Scientifique

Page publiée le 2 avril 2023