These maps by Philippe Rekacewicz show how the phenomenon of migration relates to the issue of political borders. They are not ‘finalised’ maps, but rather rough preparatory drafts, the provisional character of which attests to the nature of the border itself: ambivalent and paradoxical (it divides as much as it unites). Borders are difficult to map out: firstly the maps respond to the question of ‘where’ and then they permit us to understand ‘what,’ to understand how human communities organise and produce their territory to the detriment of their neighbours.
Behind every map there is an intention. A map is born of an idea; it is an intellectual construction before being formalised into the sketched draft, the sign of that first cartographic intent. Once they are printed, the political maps of the world – those depicting the complex networks of lines that symbolise borders – create the illusion of a world that is perfectly carved up into units of life, into regions and countries. They have an air of harmony about them, and they give the borders a sense of permanence. However, borders are inscribed into the landscape in a myriad of ways: they can tower up as thick, insurmountable barriers, or they can be practically nonexistent. Between these extremes, there is an infinite number of variations. And these virtual lines shift in time and space whenever history unsettles the world.
Philippe Rekacewicz is a cartographer and the co-author of Atlas mondial de l’eau, une pénurie annoncée (2003). He draws maps for Le Monde diplomatique and Atlas der Globalisierung.
This collection of maps first appeared in print in Chimurenga Vol. 14 Everyone Has Their Indian (April ’09)