Design-Politics: An Inquiry into Passports, Camps and Borders
doctoral thesis (2011-2016)

This thesis is an interrogation of the contemporary politics of movement and more specifically, migration politics from the perspective of the agency of design and designing. At the core of this thesis lies a series of arguments which invite design researchers and migration scholars to rethink the ways they work with their practices: that states, in order to make effective their abstract notions of borders, nations, citizenship, legal protection and rights are in dire need of what this thesis coins as material articulations. The way these notions are presented to us is seldom associated with artefacts and artefactual relations. It is of importance therefore, as this thesis argues, to speak of such material articulations as acts of designing. To examine the politics of movement and migration politics from such a perspective, this thesis focuses on practices that shape specific material articulations such as passports, camps and borders. At the same time, it discusses the practices that emerge from these articulations. By doing this, it follows the politics that shape these seemingly mundane artefacts and relations as well as the politics that emerge from them. Consequently, it argues that design and politics cannot be discussed and worked on as two separate fields of knowledge but rather as interconnected fields, as design-politics. This thesis unpacks this claim by focusing specifically on the lived experiences and struggles of asylum seekers, refugees and undocumented migrants as well as rearticulating some of the artefacts and artefactual relations involved in the politics of movement and migration.

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