Borders re/make Bodies and Bodies are Made to Make Borders: Storying Migrant Trajectories


  • Sutapa Chattopadhyay Maastricht University


The concept of borders continues to be notoriously obscure, due to its conceptual complexity, historicity and political situatedness. Equally contestable are concepts such as migrant and migration. Conceptually, I draw from Harsh Walia’s Border Imperialism and border studies that center on the context-particular histories of European colonialism and imperialism. Central to the manuscript is the interlacing of geopolitics and the everyday in ways that show the explosion of borders and peculiar dissection of borders on particular migrants. Borders re/make bodies and bodies are made to make borders in the variety of ways across different sites. In the first half of the manuscript, I argue that these compelling conceptual and methodological approaches are pivotal to challenging Eurocentric representations of migrants and positivist research traditions, while in the second half I forge an understanding of the biopolitics of borders. My research findings are developed from 10 in-depth narratives mainly collected from Bangladeshi migrants in Madrid and Rome. Alongside participatory (action) research methods and migrant narratives, I recall my own precarious work experiences and identity as a migrant, in Europe, which are parallel but quite distinct from the experiences of the researched. This research has deepened my understanding of migrants and borders and de-centered my conceptualizations prior to this field work. Most significantly, I strive to meet two challenges: provide a critical discussion on my use of feminist-informed methodology, and forward an analysis of the situation of migrants from the Global South in Europe through their voices by emphasizing the need for ethnographically-informed works to foreground significant aspects of migrant trajectories and their everyday lives.




How to Cite

Chattopadhyay, S. (2018). Borders re/make Bodies and Bodies are Made to Make Borders: Storying Migrant Trajectories. ACME: An International Journal for Critical Geographies, 18(1), 149–172. Retrieved from



Themed Section - Border Imperialism