(Im) Mobilities across the Americas in a (Post)Pandemic Context 

Jun.-Prof. Dr. Soledad Álvarez Velasco, Heidelberg Center for Ibero-American Studies, Heidelberg University, Germany

From an interdisciplinary and transnational approach and drawing upon contributions from the geographies of mobilities, critical migration and border studies, this course examines the impact of COVID-19 on migrant (im)mobilities across the Americas. It briefly reviews the historical and contemporary processes and dynamics of migration across the Americas and examines how the pandemic has reshaped and transformed them. By analyzing themes including immigration and border control, the right to asylum, detention and deportation, return migration, children migration, migratory caravans, migrants smuggling, among others, it focuses on how the pandemic has triggered a regional intensification of border control disproportionately affecting regional and extra-continental undocumented migrants and asylum seekers, confining them to everyday hyper-precarization and dispossession of their most elementary human rights. By studying concrete cases, the course will also examine how during a (post)pandemic context, regional and extra-continental migrant populations have continued to migrate via south-north and south-south routes across the Americas, while developing imperceptible politics to preserve their lives and mobilities. The core materials of the course come from the digital archive of the transnational project (Im)Mobility in the Americas and COVID-19 (https://www.inmovilidadamericas.org) and include migrant and asylum seekers’ testimonies; policy documents; videos; and investigative journalism reports, in addition to canonical and alternative readings from sociology, anthropology, history, demography, political science, socio-legal studies, and Latinx Studies.  

Students will become familiar with different discipline-based theories and approaches to migration and border control with central analytical concepts in migration studies.  Furthermore, they will acquire an overview of how the tension between mobility and control has shaped the new geography of migration across the Americas and how the (post) pandemic context has intensified this tension producing new spatial effects. Upon completing this course, participants will also be able to critically explain why migration movements do not cease across the Americas in a (post)pandemic context and identify the major social, political, economic and cultural challenges it poses to societies and states across the continentThey will be able to use digital archives, journalistic and testimonial sources as a basis for an analytical approach to the study of contemporary migration.