Project by
Ramón Córdova González
Master Track
Heidi Sohn, Bas Gremmen, Mike Emmerik

Ecologies of Migration

The phenomenon of migration is a fundamental concept to evolutionary biology, population studies, and life sciences. It is almost uncontestable common knowledge that migration is an indispensable factor to propel difference and change, thus ensuring genetic variation, and ultimately evolution for all life forms. For most species migration is the rule, not the exception. Yet, when referring to human migration, the discussions suddenly turn highly controversial. Underpinning the expected arguments that tie these discussions to human exceptionalism and speciesism, one encounters the deeply rooted links of sedentarism to diverse projects of State formation, the construction of society and its cultural and territorial arrangements into bounded, legible schemes and models. Arguably, a narrowing vision, which simultaneously claims to capture and organize an otherwise complex and messy reality, is a necessary and effective frame to focus on particular forms of knowledge over and against others.

Nevertheless, as is increasingly evident, such narrow frames not only simplify, but also reduce reality, offering static, fixed and schematic falsifications of it, removed as it were, from the actual phenomena to which they allude. Human migration is especially prone to the effects of such simplification, leading to a reduced understanding of the migration phenomenon itself, the multiple agents which emerge from it and that shape it, and their relationality as constitutive of a milieu, or metabolism. For migration, this has a paralyzing effect, as it limits and compartamentalizes the capacity to act in relation to it. Other discursive schemes (of subject formation) that allow us to think and act differently, creatively and critically in relation to migration are paramount, especially if the intentionality is to physically intervene within it. In other words, migration and migrant agents, when liberated from the grasp of conventionally reductive and simplifying frames, reveal their intricate participation in an ecology that not only engenders the becoming of form, space, matter and subjectivity, but which also shapes specifically human practices and relations. In short, understanding migration as a complex assemblage driven by desire and other, previously unseen forces is to regard it as a process of becoming. Seen from this angle, concepts conventionally associated to human migration –from migrating subjects, territories, borders, to structures and systems-, become fields of latent potentiality and productive possibilities. It is at this juncture when –perhaps appropriately so- we may begin exercising different forms of nomadic thought when dealing with migration.

The proposal departs from the premise that different theoretical and discursive frameworks are necessary to rethink and act upon the very urgent problem of human migration from a metabolic, relational and systemic point of view. It will do so by introducing and explaining an unconventional approach in which three different ‘logics’ will encounter each other in an attempt to recalibrate the reach of the spatial disciplines and material practices, in particular architecture, within the phenomenon of contemporary human migration: population thinking, intensive thinking and topological thinking.