Somayeh Chitchian: Logistification of Migration – Infrastructures of Mobility, Containment, and Rebellion

Considering the logistical reorientation of the economy since the 1960s, this project focuses on the extended logistics corridors and infrastructures of connectivity as complex (post)colonial and racialized geographies of both migratory mobilities and regimes of violent bordering. In other words, this project looks at the extended landscapes of cross-border human mobilities and their strategic channeling and/or containment through the entangled civilian/military logistics infrastructures and supply chain capitalism as fields of accumulation, dispossession, and value extraction. This project asks: how does the contemporary (post)colonial logistics space produce its political figure on-the-move—i.e., “the migrant”?  This paper, centralizes the question of the urban as one of infrastructure, logistics, and migration and through the notion of the “urbanity of movement” deconstructs both the category of the urban beyond that of “the city” together with the complex category of the spatio-political figure on-the-move beyond that of “the migrant” and thus problematizes the fixed and static ontologies which have been central in both urban- and migration-research. Through the lens of infrastructures of human movement, this paper deconstructs Castells’ concepts of “space of flow” vis-à-vis “space of places” (1996) and, instead, posits the in-between figure in the infrastructural space of in-between as the central foci of analysis with the aim of hybridizing “the city”/non-city and “the migrant”/non-migrant categorical dichotomies.

Somayeh Chitchian

Somayeh Chitchian is an architect, urban researcher and doctoral fellow at Harvard University, Graduate School of Design. She is also a doctoral fellow at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity in Germany. Her research focuses on the contemporary extended corridors of migratory mobilities and uses decolonial cartography as a critical tool of representation and analysis. Chitchian’s work lies at the intersection of critical urban theory, migration research, and border studies and uses de/postcolonial thought and critical race theory as its framework of analysis. Her research studies the intersection of logistics space and infrastructures of migratory mobilities as extended geographies of both violent bordering regimes and practices of resistance and rebellion. The central question guiding her doctoral work is: How does the contemporary logistics space (re)produce its political figure on-the-move—i.e., “the migrant”? Chitchian is a trained architect (B.Arch. and M.Arch.) from Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands and holds a Master in Design Studies degree (MDes) in Critical Conservation (with distinction) from Harvard University Graduate School of Design. Her master thesis research “Middle Eastern Immigration Landscape in America” won Harvard ESRI Development Center the Student of the Year Award in 2014. During her years in the Netherlands, she practiced as an architect at several firms in both Amsterdam and The Hague, where she collaborated on various residential and cultural projects, as well as the design of advanced building envelopes. At Harvard, she has held various appointments as teaching and research fellow. Currently, she is working on her doctoral thesis as a research fellow at the Max Planck Institute.

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