Deportation, Aviation, and the Politics of Visibility

March 30, 2017

William Walters

Thursday, March 30, 6:00PM–8:00PM, Room 7000, SFU Harbour Centre

Sponsored by SFU's Institute for the Humanities, Centre for Policy Studies on Culture and Communities (CPCC), & Department of Sociology & Anthropology

Contemporary migration control is marked by extreme variation in its visibility. The so-called migrant boat has become one of the most visible and troubling figures of Europe's politics of refugees and migration. In contrast the infrastructures by which rejected refuge seekers and unwanted non-citizens are removed from European territories are largely invisible to the political public. This presentation has two aims. First, it examines how artists, activists and critical cartographers have grappled with the opacity of deportation. How have their interventions made deportation practices and experiences into objects of public concern? To what extent have they challenged the imaginary of migration control by revealing the central role of civil aviation in the forced removal of people? Second, what can this reflection on the art of deportation contribute to our understanding of migration control and struggles over refuge? Might it deepen the idea of a politics of visibility, a notion that has yet to be adequately developed within the study of borders and migration.


William Walters is a Professor of Political Sociology in the Departments of Political Science and Sociology & Anthropology at Carleton University, Ottawa. He has published widely in such areas as migration and citizenship studies, security and borders, and Foucault studies. His most recent book is Governmentality: Critical Encounters (Routledge 2012) which has just come out in Japanese. He co-edits the book series Mobility & Politics (Palgrave Macmillan). His main research interests are secrecy, publicity, mobility and infrastructure. He is working on a new book provisionally titled The Production of Secrecy (Routledge) as well as a collaborative project on aviation and deportation.