Tuesday, December 8, 2009

FINAL PAPER PROPOSAL: Transborder Immigrant Tool

For my final paper I wanted to focus on a GPS tool recently developed by the Electronic Disturbance Theater aptly named the Transborder Immigrant Tool. Offered as an application that the developers are hoping to make available for free on the internet, the tool uses global-positioning technology to chart the best route for dangerous desert crossings in a hope to save those hundreds of those who die crossing the border each year, many lost or abandoned by guides.

What are the potentials and limitations of such a device in terms of what networks or community it makes possible? How can begin to think of these technologies (Google Earth, GPS, etc) differently in terms of their ability to be appropriated in counter-hegemonic activism?

I really wanted to explore the relation between flows and mapping in the context of border politics. How is each functioning? For example, technological advances and flows of capital and products have enabled the crossing of borders and like Kalau’s project, even illegal products like drugs are able to cross the border with relative ease. However, there are still both real and symbolic borders when it comes to ‘immigrants’. How is this tension functioning in relation to the local and what perceived ‘threats’ does the nation face? More specifically, what kinds of discourses emerge about such a technologies? For example, an Orange county local paper’s headline read, “Poll: 56% say border-crossing tool threatens national security.”

There are obviously a lot of readings that are relevant to this discussion. The theorists that I am considering focusing on are Rafael (technology as a means to navigate and the relationship between technology and political action), Terranova (particularly the discussion of the potential of tactical media and its influence in migrant media pg. 147-50).

Terranova – chapter Communication biopower

“The virtual movements of this early twenty-first century have offered a challenging glimpse of the political field opened up by communication biopower. A network micropolitcs able to traverse the global space of communication is not some kind of easy utopia, wher differences are allowed to coexist or go their separate ways – the domain of a blissfully unproblematic self-organization. On the contrary, it is the ways in which the global communication matric allows suck connections and organizations to take place that reveals the hard work implied. This scattering, this tendency to diverge and separate, coupled with that of converging and joining, presents different possible lines of actualization: it can reproduce the rigid segments of the social and hence its ghettos, solipsisms and rigid territorialities. And it also offers the potential for a political experimentation, where the overall dynamics of a capillary communication milieu can be used productively as a kind of common ground – allowing relations of compossibility as well as concerted actions” (156).

Still trying to work out my thesis. Will hopefully figure out more fully where I ultimately want to go with this. (areas that I am also thinking of exploring: visuality as a tool of biopower and the role of the map). Any questions, comments or suggestions would be much appreciated.

more information about the application found here.


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