Open Letter: Blocked by the Border

online | Berliner Gazette

Earlier this week, Berliner Gazette published an open letter to draw attention to EU border regimes and their impact on organisation in cultural, educational and activist spaces and institutions. As diffrakt, we co-signed the letter. Here it is:

Our main encounter with EU border policing took place a few years ago, at the height of the pandemic, when a member of diffrakt was threatened with more-or-less immediate deportation to their country of birth after losing their student status and not qualifying for another form of visa mainly due to yearly income requirements. In the often relatively precarious forms of life that work in the cultural sphere entails, these requirements are hard to meet even with a high degree of qualification. While in this case deportation strictly speaking could be averted, the process ultimately resulted in our member’s remigration precisely at the moment when they could have found more time for collective work.

As far as our guests are concerned, things have been easier on our part, mainly because so far, due to limited funds, we’ve mostly been piggybacking on other institutions’ invitations. In 2021, when Covid made reliable planning impossible, we had to transform our biggest transnational project to date, a perfect storm, into an online publication. But even there, where it was mainly a question of moving contracts and money across barely visible borders, matters became much more complicated than what we had anticipated.

But even if for now diffrakt as a collective has had relatively few direct encounters with border patrols, all of us have been subjected, in one form or another to the arbitrary power relations enforced by border regimes. We have worked in other contexts where visa have been denied or where people have been held at airports or elsewhere. We have been stopped and searched, or we have been hit with the paradoxical force of white privilege when we weren’t stopped and searched while others around us were.

The struggle continues. Please read and share the letter as well as your experiences.