ESR 5 Blog October 2021: Claude Nassar

A Bureaucratic Autumn

For the past month I have been mainly busy with preparing for my secondment, applying for a VISA to the UK and making sure my residency status allows me to travel outside of Iceland. Since these processes require extensive labour, serious planning, and willingness to submit to the wills and schedules of government agencies, this month’s blog wont venture further than these experiences.

When designed and reviewed these processes are linear with each step allowing access to the one after it. However, in reality it is never that simple. These processes are designed for people like me, who are not nationals of the former West, which means that a given linear process to enter a state is necessarily accompanied by another linear process in a different state. In the case of coming from a state, residing in another and moving to yet another means that there are at least three linear processes with their own sub-processes going in and out of phase with each other, producing a complex function that often collapses in knots where each step presupposes the other. Linear processes that should not be too much to handle when undertaken separately, could never be undertaken separately. In reality, travel from a place to another requires a complex system of processes that takes over every possibility of doing any other work, any potential of planning ahead and ushers in a state of paralysis due to the lack of time and stability, that reproduces itself even when the grey clouds of bureaucracy subside for a moment.

I am privileged to go through these processes with much appreciated support from host institutions from both sides. Despite all the personal and institutional support these processes do not fail to remind me of the precariousness of the migratory position and the risk of a life collapsing from a misspelled word. The padded precarity of my situation is but a narrow window into the lives of migrants that fall in between the cracks of agencies and institutions, and refugees that fall in between the militarised physical and legislative walls of the state with no one and no institutions to pull them back into existence. I hope these experiences will be a reminder to myself that political imagination should never only account for the padded precarity of an academic position, but rather enable me to theorise political strategies and artistic practices grounded in the uncertainty of living on the periphery of states and institutions as it becomes the position of more and more bodies around the world.

Privacy Preferences
When you visit our website, it may store information through your browser from specific services, usually in form of cookies. Here you can change your privacy preferences. Please note that blocking some types of cookies may impact your experience on our website and the services we offer.