These are the hands of twelve of the women I walk with weekly in a small London park. These are women who represent a range of nationalities and of migrant experiences. Each of the women are at different stages of their migration journey. Some have been in London for many years. Some have just arrived. Some are fluent in English, and some are just beginning to learn. All are migrants with precarious legal status. Some of their stories I know well but most only in part – in glimpses revealed in general conversations. We come together each week in a safe space of mutual support not to dwell on the past but to try to make the present a place with some light and companionship in it. As one of the women said last week, this is their “Wednesday family”.
I have photographed the hands of these women – hands that have felt love and endured much pain and sorrow – joining together in a touch of mutual support, empathy and understanding. Across the hands I overlay a map of the world, highlighted with colonial territories and state borders which have marked these women physically and emotionally. These are the borders traced on the skin of the women. Traced by race and by subjective experience. These are the borders that they will carry with them throughout their lives: that separate them from families and continue to determine where they can or can’t go. These are the borders which transcend legal categories and imprint on the very being or becoming of these women.