As companions and counterparts of human movement, artefacts both stay and move, engender, enable or hinder mobility. This panel analyses the various types of technological artefacts that circulate and come to constitute relational nodal points in migration, border control and border circumvention.
As companions and counterparts of human movement, artefacts themselves both stay and move, engender, enable or hinder mobility. They are the concrete articulations of policies of border making, they condense memories of the past and ideals of the future, enable communication, invalidate passage, articulate legal procedures and are instruments of control. Arte-facts are both made and making, created and creative, produced and productive. The panel takes as point of departure the various types of artefacts that circulate and constitute relational nodal points in migration, border control and border circumvention. Artefacts such as documents, fingerprints, automated border control, surveillance screens, maps, application forms, mobile phones, and body parts for developing new modes of verification, all articulate and set in motion specific social practices and interactions. A fingerprint is both an integral part of a particular finger and a dataset travelling between databases and screens, and through its interpretation it enables or disables passage; an application form for family reunification produces specific interactions, detachments and ties, e.g. between a helping volunteer and a refugee; a moving white dot on a screen in a surveillance room is an index of both a living human being and the presence of an approaching illegal migrant that calls for action. Using artefacts as a starting-point opens up for an ethnographically rich and explorative approach to studies of global mobility and immobility. We therefore welcome papers that focus on the potency of mundane, seemingly insignificant objects and details that have an impact on the daily activities, processes and prospects of border making and migration.