Over 177,500 people have made their way to the Greek islands since January last year. Migration endures, despite the Balkan route lock-down and systematic forced deportations to Turkey, which followed the EU-Turkey deal struck 20th March 2016. The current political climate in Europe has allowed for further toughened, militarised and externalised their borders, through a rhetoric, passionately energising a regional focus on border security vis-a-vis Europe’s ‘Others.’ This talk will aim to give the listener a range of anthropological reflections on the meaning of borders and other systems of denied resemblances, we see in Europe today. It will provide a visual representation of the conditions inside the Greek refugee camps and the concerns of their long-term residents, who live and lost lives to the legacy of borders. Vis-a-vis the inevitability of a migration, the talk will seek to provide some context to EU’s refugee response and its short-falls, as subsequent of its ontological equation in which movement is exceptionalised and migration, criminalised. EU’s political investment in crimmigration supports a fierce, discursive naturalisation of a particular stagnant idea of culture, borders and identity. This forms an interesting bulwark that modern nation-states in the EU perhaps find crucial for their sense-making and -legitimisation today. We will explore the palpable dangers of misunderstanding the dynamic nature of identity, belonging and culture, as it forms a politically capitalising idea of migration as transgression/crime. It is argued that such reflection is essential to ensure security and protection within, without and along, any border. The talk will end with a slide on the power of civil society to mediate, respond and overcome borders and the crisis within migration management today.
About the speaker: Henriette Johansen is an anthropologist, consultant and photographer who spent three years working with refugees in Lebanon and Greece. Alongside managing camp welfare projects and assisting vulnerable refugees, she conducted research on the effects of the EU policies towards migration and refugees, including the EU deal with Turkey. She is currently setting up an organisation in London to support young unaccompanied asylum-seekers, refugees and migrants. Her presentation is accompanied by her photos and videos from the field.