Struggling to remember, fighting for memories: photographs in irregular migration
Natalia Alonso Rey (Universitat Rovira i Virgili (Tarragona))
Paper short abstract:
The objects that accompany migrants' journeys are selected in a process that often implies choosing what and how to remember. This can be specially difficult for irregular migrants. In this context I want to discuss the importance of selection and materiality to mantain, dispute and produce memory.
Paper long abstract:
In this paper I want to discuss preliminary data from my investigation on objects that come inside the first suitcases of migrants living in Catalonia, Spain. I will focus on objects taken by people who migrated in what's called irregular administrative situations. Specifically, I want to concentrate the attention on photographs (analyzed not only from their visual content but also from their materiality) taken by Uruguayan women who migrated to Spain. When preparing the suitcases, irregularity migration materialized. The choice of objects was shaped by migratory regulations and the fear of the moment of crossing borders. These women dreaded that the objects taken could "reveal" them as migrants and not tourists, as they wanted the authorities at the airport to believe. The fear to be "discovered" was especially relevant in connection to photographs. But still, they packed them. I want to discuss their strategies and reflections on photographs, memories, border crossing and irregularity, to reflect on how migration regulations shaped their migration and how these women tried to resist them by choosing to take photographs along. My aim is to discuss how and why to preserve personal and family memory can be considered an act of resistance in this context, and how photographs were the ideal allies in this task.
Contested histories on the move: rethinking memory through mobility and agency