Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-2803

Article | Open Access

Mapping European Border Control: On Small Maps, Reflexive Inversion and Interference

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The so-called hotspots—identification and registration centres on the Aegean Islands in Greece and in Italy—are not only sites of remote detention, European intervention or differential inclusion, but also logistical set-ups, where data is generated and spread across state institutions. Such socio-technical assemblages are hard to research not only because of state actors’ desire to keep things secret but also because of methodological issues. How does one disentangle their extensive, complex and rhizomatic nature? Which trajectories does one follow and which actors and voices does one assemble? Following recent work in the realm of STS, methods are understood as (b)ordering devices, which performatively enact an ordered world and produce accounts of the social, including some realities while excluding others. This article considers mapping a well-suited method for studying widespread socio-technical assemblages, but only if it is handled with caution. Based on an empirical inquiry into the Moria hotspot and following a praxeographic research approach, different types of small maps are developed that enfold complexity by being attentive to situatedness, symmetry, multi-sitedness and multiplicity. Furthermore, it emphasizes an on-going process of reflexive inversion of the mapping process that makes the crafted accounts contestable and its boundaries and blind spots visible. Finally, the article discusses how mappings can be used not only as research but also as a political device that contributes to the work of other collectives beyond the scientific production of truth.

Keywords:  issue maps; methods as ordering device; Moria hotspot; praxeography; situational maps; social world maps; trajectory maps



© Silvan Pollozek. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.