MANYproposes to outwit opposition to migration by more robustly networking short term, project-based visas and cooperative exchanges for those who want to resettle but also for those who want to keep traveling—who never wanted the citizenship or asylum that the nation withholds or reluctantly bestows.
By Keller Easterling
Global infrastructure space has perfectly streamlined the movements of billions of products and tens of millions of tourists and cheap laborers, but at a time when over 65 million people in the world are displaced, there are still so few ways to handle political, economic, or environmental migrations. The nation-state has a dumb on-off button to grant or deny citizenship/asylum. And the NGOcracy offers as its best idea storage in a refugee camp—a form of detention lasting on average 17 years.
MANY asks: Can the legal and logistical ingenuity that lubricates trade be applied to a global form of matchmaking between the sidelined talents of migrating individuals and a multitude of endeavors and opportunities around the world? Might another kind of cosmopolitan mobility organize around intervals of time or seasons of a life to form a branching set of options that is more politically agile? Might this exchange be anticipated and celebrated as the means to global leadership credentials?
MANY proposes to outwit opposition to migration by more robustly networking short term, project-based visas and cooperative exchanges for those who want to resettle but also for those who want to keep traveling—who never wanted the citizenship or asylum that the nation withholds or reluctantly bestows. The platform serves people who might say, “We don’t want your citizenship or your victimhood or your segregation or your bad jobs. We don’t want to stay.”
While conceived at a moment of digital ubiquity, the real object of design is not an app but a heavy information system—altered legal and spatial networks. MANY connects existing visa sponsoring networks with spatial projects. Cities can bargain with their underexploited spaces to attract a changing influx of talent and resources—matching their needs with the needs of mobile people to generate mutual benefits. There are no haves and have nots, and no solutions—only needs and problems to be linked in non-market exchanges. Groups forming on either side of the exchange form a no-tech blockchain to increase security. Beyond national signals, this group to group exchange has its own visual language that is designed to engender trust.
Research and design over the last six months assembled almost 100 representative entries for the platform. Each of the entries point to thousands of existing visa sponsors in education, agriculture, medicine, and other industries as well as a strategy for aggregating these networks and strengthening them with spatial variables.
Keller Easterling is an architect and writer from New York City and a professor at Yale University. Her most recent book, Extrastatecraft: The Power of Infrastructure Space (Verso, 2014) examines global infrastructure networks as a medium of polity.
Easterling’s MANY project, an online platform facilitating migration through an exchange of needs, was exhibited at the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale.