A City of Comings and Goings

2. Generation Bataclan - Liberation

Throughout the coming months Design as Politics is hosting a series of seminars around ‘the spatial dimensions of migration’ at the Berlage – Center for advanced studies in Architecture and Urban Design. At the first seminar, we looked at migration, the trajectories and in-between-stations of the students themselves, who came from all around the world to study at the Berlage. During the next sessions we will continue exploring the different facets of migration, seen through the eyes of various groups of people: from the refugees trying to find a better future for their kids, to the exchange student that decided to spend 6 months abroad, or the seasonal worker who travels back and forth between countries in search for employment and fair wages. They will all be coverd during the coming months as as part of a larger program around this issue. More about that will follow soon!

After the Paris attacks of 13 November 2015, a photograph of the young and diverse audience at the concert of the ‘Eagles of Death Metal’ was published in the French newspaper Libération. Underneath the photo was written in large letters: Génération Bataclan.

It turned out that the victims of the Paris attacks did not only consist of students who have seen the world in exchange programs or foreign tourists enjoying themselves in Parisian concert venues and trendy bars. Most of the victims just were French citizens, some of whom had emigrated from Chile as children; others had parents who came to France from Algeria or Congo in 1970s. The ‘Génération Bataclan’ represents an urban class that is extremely mobile, with networks of relations that spread across the whole world and that can be quickly mobilised for work or a place to stay. The Bataclan generation can be seen as a global generation existing out of ‘citizens of the world’, characterised by post-Coldwar mobility.

It is precisely this ‘Génération Bataclan’ that is inspiring the Chair of Design as Politics, together with Crimson Architectural Historians and the International New Town Institute, to consider migration as a fundamental phenomenon in present-day Europe. In their essayA City of Comings and Goings’ Wouter Vanstiphout and Michelle Provoost argue that by isolating the refuge crisis as a temporary situation, we are ignoring the fact that migration has become a part of life.

It is an interesting idea that the students at the Berlage Institute also belong to this ‘Génération Bataclan’ and are part of a group characterized by moving; by coming and going. In the first seminar students made a diagram or visualization of their own trajectories and ‘in-between-stations’ in life. Where do they come from? Where did they live in the past years and how did they come to Delft?

It turned out that for some of the students the administrative procedures upon arrival were not as welcoming as for others. Some are already thinking about their next destination in life, while others are dreaming to go back to their country of origin. And all of them are conscious of the fact that belonging is an active process.