Sarah Parker Remond Centre


Christie Cheng

Racism and Racialisation

PhD group


Christie Cheng

PhD: Migrating Optics. Radical documentaries on labour.

Accessible digital media and screening circuits have enabled activist filmmakers to document more intimate and grounded perspectives on migrant struggles and amplify their demands for better labour and living conditions. These shifting documentary visibilities also attest to concurrent developments of precarious migration taking place beyond the excessively mediatised scenes of crisis migration in Europe and the US. My research examines the rise in radical documentaries on migrant labour that emerged during this post-2015 context of precarious migrant hypervisibility and how they provide alternative optics to understanding the ways in which migration and border regimes have intensified. It looks at documentaries on Syrian migrants who wind up rebuilding post-war Lebanon; deportee labour in Tijuana’s growing call centre industry; “illegalised” sex workers and their demands for the autonomy to migrate and work in Europe and so on to understand how these regimes are set up to govern mobile subjects as racialised labour rather than their violent expulsion from the sovereign territories of a nation state.