Based on a critical analysis of the two notions of “crisis” and “compassion,” this article outlines and problematizes the increasing engagement of design practices with refugees and vulnerable communities on the move. By contextualizing different historical and contemporary humanitarian design examples in an analysis of current European border politics, the article questions the ways in which designing in the aftermath of the so-called “refugee crisis” has been mobilized without due consideration of what types of politics it produces and what types of politics it eventually ignores. It suggests that designers instead need to develop a more political understanding of the current border regime that produces and regulates refugees, asylum seekers, and undocumented migrants worldwide and to think of practices that support the struggles of racialized people on the move in transgressing and questioning the borders.

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