Mahmoud Keshavarz

Smuggling as a Material and Critical Practice of Dissent

In a world where mobility is extensively regulated and exclusively legalised by the state and its apparatuses of nationhood and citizenship configured through material practices such as passports and visa regimes, travellers without the ‘right’ papers have to rely on and use other services such as smuggling. Smuggling is often framed by the state, media and authorities as a violent and criminal activity through communicating a strong imagery of migrant vulnerability. However, the quick criminalisation of smuggling dismisses the complex relations from which smuggling is generated and the relations which smuggling produces.

Mahmoud Keshavarz, postdoctoral researcher

Mahmoud Keshavarz,
postdoctoral researcher

My postdoctoral research aims to examine these complex relations as very specific modes of knowledge generation that turn the state practices against itself and render a seemingly solid apparatus as vulnerable. Extending my previous transdisciplinary research on the design politics of movement and migration, and particularly the politics of passport forgery, I am specifically interested in examining the interrelations between three overlapping concepts all present in practices of smuggling: materiality, critique and violence. Furthermore, I am interested to situate these concepts as well as the different practices of smuggling within the ways in which the current politics of movement has its histories in colonial practices and orders. Hence, decoloniality is my main theoretical and methodological framework for discussing these concepts with the aim of shifting the epistemological framework used for understanding the practice of smuggling in the context of im/mobility.

Currently I am finishing a book manuscript entitled The Design Politics of the Passport (Bloomsbury Academic, 2018). You can check some of my publications here, some of my design works here as well as my collaborative editorial works at Manipulations and Decolonising Design.

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