Civics Citizenship

‘Illegal’ Traveller: An Auto-Ethnography of Borders by S. Khosravi

By S. Khosravi

In response to fieldwork between undocumented immigrants and asylum seekers unlawful traveler bargains a story of the polysemic nature of borders, border politics, and rituals and performances of border-crossing. Interjecting own reports into ethnographic writing it's 'a type of self-narrative that areas the self inside a social context'.

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Sample text

Since there were no telephones in the rooms of Hotel Shalimar, communication with Iran was not easy. Our families called the reception and anyone of us who happened to be around paged the person. If the person was not inside the hotel, one of us talked to his parents to deliver a message. Many of us, the guests of Hotel Shalimar, got to know each other’s families. In some cases, our parents even met each other in Iran to exchange information and support each other in transferring money or finding a way out of Pakistan.

The hero, an Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) agent, chases space aliens, non-human creatures. The movie starts with a ‘humorous mistake’. Instead of space aliens, a group of human aliens – undocumented Mexican 28 ‘Illegal’ Traveller border transgressors – are apprehended. Metaphorically, the unauthorized border crossers are equated with alien space organisms, the ‘scum of the universe’. Human ‘alien’ is conflated with ‘space alien’. The movie, however, goes further in dehumanizing border crossers, when it shows the body of one undocumented Mexican border crosser acting as host to a parasitic alien space creature, the ‘scum of the universe’ (Marciniak 2006; Hicks 2007).

If the person was not inside the hotel, one of us talked to his parents to deliver a message. Many of us, the guests of Hotel Shalimar, got to know each other’s families. In some cases, our parents even met each other in Iran to exchange information and support each other in transferring money or finding a way out of Pakistan. The usual way of communication was mail. I never forget the first letter I received from Iran, around two months after my arrival in Karachi, in late April. In the small lobby of the hotel, Pour, a young Iranian man with whom I shared room, handed me a letter that had arrived that day.

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