Sarah Bittel is a second year doctoral student at the Graduate Institute of International Studies and Development (IHEID) in Geneva. Her research focuses on the claim of subjectivities by forced migrants through various forms of visual self-representation. Drawing on her former activity as a photojournalist and her Masters in political and cultural geography at the University of Geneva, she refers to postcolonial theories and visual anthropology to reflect on the migrant as a new figure in contemporary European politics.
In her former activity as a photojournalist she used photography as a tool for reflecting and analysing the media’s way of visualizing migratory movements. She further provided a personal view on the abstract value of borderlines, and the struggle of asylum seekers in Switzerland and in Southeastern Europe. Her photojournalistic experiences influenced her ongoing research, that seeks ‘to listen’ and ‘look at migrants’ existing image making practices. To do so, she mainly focuses on Afghan migrants’ self-representations with a special attention to how created visuals speak to their social aspirations, obligations, and pre- and changing conceptions of “Europe”, with social media platforms as spaces of major significance to perform self-representation. By analyzing images and discussing forms of visual communication with Afghan migrants, Sarah aims to gain new perspectives on how migrants appropriate their own image and how visual self-representations mediates roles of migrants as political actors.
The selected images presented here are an excerpt from a graphic novel that has been produced based on an audiovisual report of the Serbian-Hungarian border closure in 2015.