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Vahida Ramujkic
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Papeles para todos o papeles para nadie (nobody is illegal, or we all are)

"Extra-comunitarios", or citizens of non-European countries, have the "extra" bureaucratic task of changing their status, to one that will allow them to move and work "freely" within the European Union. The length and complexity of this process can vary depending on the type of "extra-comunitario" in question.

Almost everyone agrees that bureaucracy is as boring as it gets: it's boring for those who have to navigate their way through it, and for those who regulate it. But documents can suddenly become imbued with power and begin to tell the story of a person's life, down to the most subtle details, feelings, disappointments, hopes and despair. Technical terms written in upper case become charged with meaning: Student Visa Application receipt, Return Permit: DENIED, Document REMOVED, LOST….

If you had ever thought that all humans are endowed by nature with the right to move freely and the right to work, and that these rights should be above any "earthly" law granted and regulated by political bodies, bureaucracy will, in practice, show you that the opposite is true.

The things reserved for our innermost selves, the way we explain ourselves to ourselves and question the nature of life and the whole world: Who am I? Where do I come from? Where am I going? How big is space and how long is time? lose their transcendental nature and begin to refer exclusively to a limited universe much closer at hand, ruled by legal regulations that have their limits within political borders.

So then – Who am I? The way in which we search for and construct our identity becomes a question of social objectivity, the need to acquire a status that gives us the right to be somebody in the current social system. To have an official ID number, a social security number, to make social security contributions, to be a taxpayer…

Space is basically defined within two incompatible realities: the one back there and the one yonder. The one I come from and the one I'm heading to. Each closed to the other, thereby condemning the person trapped in between to wander aimlessly through the transition space between them, coming up against obstacles to participating in either of the two worlds.

Time gets its meaning in the indefinite periods of waiting – Transit Time. Time that isn't considered to be part of living, but an interference, daily life put on hold for an unknown period, with the hope that, when it's all over, it will be possible to take up 'real' life again as though nothing had ever happened. But this 'interference time' is increasingly becoming a constant element of life, and if a person does eventually manage to reach her goal, she may have changed so much that her interests and physical and mental state may no longer be the same.

A card with a number on it becomes the object of anxiety and a daily nightmare. A card with a number is much more than a card with a number (and perhaps a hologram, magnetic strip, microchip…). This card with a number is the key to freedom of movement and the job that you want, a synonym of freedom. And the desire for it grows stronger as the bureaucratic process, transition, irresolution, legislative limbo or whatever becomes longer and more convoluted.

If it's true that we learn from life by living it, what can we do with what we learn in this case? Queue better? Be more severe, obedient, or lie to the authorities better? Do we learn that it's our own fault for having desired something? Or expand our vocabulary with words that we don't even know in our native language, such as appeal, allege, authorisation…? If so, what kind of school is this, and what method does it use? And what is the paper that will make us free?
Vahida Ramujkic

Zona primaria: pensamiento en red

Fecha de modificación: 16/03/2006 05:04
Fecha de creación: 14/12/2005 20:58
Compilador: Celia Gradín
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