Chicago is a city shaped by movement and trade. First inhabited by indigenous peoples, the city was built through land speculation at the intersection of major waterways, and expanded as the intersection of railroads and highways. It became the destination for successive waves of new arrivals seeking opportunity: from those escaping the Jim Crow South and European fascism during the industrial era, to post-industrial rustbelt refugees and, most recently, those displaced from a structurally adjusted global south in the era of free trade. Today’s corporate towers tout Chicago’s preeminence as a hub for the non-stop flow of global capital. Mainstream media often couch these economic, demographic and spatial shifts within a partial and simplistic narrative of “progress”. AREA Issue #11 is calling for a range of contributions to support a more robust and nuanced discussion of human movement, and its impact on the political and cultural life of our city.
The distinction between migration and immigration can be viewed and discussed via the concept of the nation-state. In recent decades, as globalization opened borders for the movement of goods, natural resources and currency, a call for national security is increasingly used to justify the policing of human movement. US international policy has resulted in the forced dislocation of peoples around the world, while the fear of losing jobs and social benefits to immigrants is used to criminalize migrant labor forces in the US. Meanwhile, domestic policies increasingly reinforce inequalities along race and class lines. These disparities take physical form in our cities and can be seen by mapping the distribution of social services, wealth and resources, and access to arts and culture. In our city political forces draw imaginary lines that have real, tangible consequences for those who must navigate them.
How have internal migrations, such as the African American Great Migration and white flight, shaped the physical and psychological space of the city? How are race politics woven into the visible and invisible borders that crisscross the urban landscape? What are the forces driving displacement and gentrification, and how are they being resisted? Whose mobility is deemed “legitimate” and whose is considered a “trespass”? How is access created and redefined by im/migrants and people disabilities? Who is intentionally immobilized and by what forces? How does human movement impact the natural environment—from animal migration patterns to invasive species?
As immigrants arrive in Chicago from around the globe, what do they carry with them and what is left behind? How are language, food and music preserved as transmitters of culture, and how are they transformed? What is shared in the experience of immigrants from different countries of origin and what is particular? How does the immigrant experience differ according to age and place in life? How does identity shift in relation to where one stands at any given moment and to whom one speaks? How does media focus on Latina@ immigrants affect the discourse around immigration in the US? How does immigration reform reinforce the legitimacy of borders and the increased militarization of society?
While issues central to the theme of im/migrations are among the most talked about political issues in the country today, it seems that remarkably little is actually being said. In Im/migrations we invite contributors to depart from the mainstream discourse, to traverse the blurry line between personal and political experiences of movement.
We hope the issue will be an opportunity to explore the diverse politics of the individuals and organizations working for the rights of the undocumented. We invite contributors to challenge existing dialogues about immigration reform and to think of AREA as a space to experiment with new possibilities for language and action. We hope it will be a space to explore how migration and immigration intersect with other movements, such as those for environmental justice, gender justice, economic justice, and more. We also hope the issue will serve as a movement-building tool for those working to carve out a space in the city and defend the right to stay.
If you have something to say about these issues, we invite you to contribute! Your contributions can take many forms. We are interested in brief descriptions of the work you or your organization are doing, analysis and commentary, interviews, mapping projects, photography and other visual expressions, events, performances and more. If you have an idea, but are unsure how it might fit into im/migrations we´ll be happy to discuss the possibilities with you.
Proposals are due February 1st. Scheduled for release in May 2011.
Direct proposals, comments and questions to: immigration@AREAchicago.org