This website seeks to map migration as a conceptual field. Its aim is to identify, describe, and track the verbal, visual, aural, and digital forms through which we make sense of migration as human practice. Conceived as at once an archive, a resource guide, and a research hub for all those who are interested in this topic, this project provides a platform for ongoing inquiry into some of the key concerns of our time.

Media images, representations, art and commentary provide the ‘raw data’ on which the website draws to arrive at the concepts which in turn constitute or shape our mental maps about the migrant/emigrant/immigrant. We direct our critiques to these same images and representations but often are not aware of the wider network of ideas on which they draw.

By focusing on mediated understandings of migration, we not only engage with the predominant modes of information gathering and processing that have become normative the world over, but treat the media themselves as conduits of meaning rather than as ‘mere’ instruments of self-expression of individuals and communities, migrant or otherwise. We wish to problematize the media as much as ‘the media’ problematize migration.

The cultural production of migration is a fascinating topic but an open field at this time. While the subject-matter is vast, there are few navigational tools to sort through its profusion. If this website cannot be exhaustive in the presentation of ‘migration data’ (in the form of news coverage, photographs, film clips, or other discursive means), it can provide pathways through the major themes and tropes of migration. Above all, it hopes to shed light on some of the endemic debates circulating at the present time.

Migration is most often seen in terms of policing the movement of bodies, the competition for skilled labor, or the seepage of problems across countries and continents. Yet migration is equally about inner landscapes, about the movement of thoughts and ideas, images and information. No other human phenomenon evokes in equal measure notions of paradise and plague, adventure and loss, abjection and attainment. It is hoped that the information on this site can help us make sense of such contraries.

[All media excerpted on the site fall within the parameters of “fair use.” Wherever possible, we have also linked to source material and to external sites.]

Sumita Chakravarty    2016
Founder and Curator