Liquid Trajectories : Documenting Illegalised Migration and the Violence of Borders

Heller, Charles. 2015. Liquid Trajectories : Documenting Illegalised Migration and the Violence of Borders. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

Text (Liquid Trajectories : Documenting Illegalised Migration and the Violence of Borders)
VIS_thesis_HellerC_2015.pdf - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

Download (10MB) | Preview

Abstract or Description

This PhD thesis offers an account of my trajectory as a researcher and aesthetic practitioner seeking to document and contest the violence of the migration regime operating between Europe and Africa. I describe the successive shifts my research and practice has undergone in a “diary of practice” of sorts. Through my successive experiments with the use of a wide range of sensing devises – ranging from photographs, videos, maps, satellite images and statistical graphs – this thesis explores the intersection between the politics of migration and that of aesthetic practices. In the introduction to this thesis, I describe further my approach and inscribe it within broader theoretical fields. In the second chapter, Image/Migration, I follow the “lives” of the images of migration I have produced as a documentary filmmaker, and enquire into their effects. Considering images as practices and objects which produce variegated effects depending on their use by different actors, I chart the way images depicting migrants’ precarious condition have become embedded in the government of migration. In a third chapter, Forensic Oceanography, I present a collaborative research project aiming at documenting the deaths of migrants in the Mediterranean Sea and accounting for the conditions which have led to them. I engage with the complex geography of the EU’s maritime frontier and seek to reappropritate some of the tools normally used for surveillance – such as mapping and remote sensing – so as to reinscribe responsibility in a sea of impunity. In a fourth chapter, Tactical Statistics, I explore the potential of a critical statistical practice to register the violence of the European migration regime, which operates indirectly and leads to deaths on a structural basis. In a concluding chapter, For Movement, I discuss the conditions for thinking alternatives to the current migration regime in the form of a policy and right to universal freedom of movement.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):


Migration, Borders, Mediterranean Sea, Aesthetics, Illegal immigrants, Violence

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Visual Cultures
Visual Cultures > Centre for Research Architecture


30 September 2015

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

20 Nov 2015 14:16

Last Modified:

08 Sep 2022 13:52


View statistics for this item...

Edit Record Edit Record (login required)