Documentary on the Undocumented

Digital Technology & Culture 101

Check out Undocumented Election Night at n+1 magazine.

Questions of documentation in American politics resound most clearly in debates about immigration. To call someone documented means they have a certain legal status that recognizes their right to live in the United States. Depending on the type of documentation, they may even have the legal right to work or study here. By contrast, to call someone undocumented means they do not enjoy such a legal status. The specific documents in question are the immigration visa or the green card. Like a passport, driver’s license, marriage license or any number of other official papers, these documents carry the full authority of the state. They grant privileges by bearing the markers of officialdom. As Lisa Gitelman explains in the preface of Paper Knowledge, those markers go a long way toward performing the dominion of documentation. That dominion appears decorously in the…

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