Dr Foteini Kalantzi (SEESOX, University of Oxford), “A ‘bare life’ in the borderlines of the Mediterranean”
Discussant: Dimitris Skleparis (Newcastle University)
Research webinar series on Modern Greek Studies organised by the British School at Athens and the Greek Politics Specialist Group. Recorded 1 March 2021.
Organisers: Eirini Karamouzi (University of Sheffield) and Lamprini Rori (University of Exeter) Hosted by the British School at Athens)
Migration and refugee flows have been at the epicentre of political interest and agendas for quite some time. The latest developments in the geopolitical arena, in particular the war in Syria and the displaced populations, in conjunction with the instrumentalisation of migration as a diplomatic tool by states, necessitate an informed research agenda on this particular subject. The politicisation of migration has been a central element in electoral campaigns and has been escalated as a serious matter of public concern, posing an alleged danger to social cohesion, economic prosperity, national identity, public health, and public security. At the same time, there is a perpetuation of unresolved issues at the external EU borders, when looking at deaths in the sea or the dire living conditions in the reception centres.
The particular seminar will focus on the EU’s migration and asylum management in the Mediterranean, and in particular the border practices and reception centres in Greece. The two overarching research questions are whether migration has been securitised in Greece, that is if it has been formulated and addressed as a security threat and secondly, which are those mechanisms that conduce to the securitisation of migration, that is how this process has been coming about.
The wider rationale of the presentation lies within the ‘state of exception’ (Agamben 2005), whereby entire categories of citizens cannot be integrated into the political system. The erection of walls falls into the logic of framing migration as an issue of belonging within the polis – who belongs and who doesn’t, who is included and who is excluded. Securitisation of migration achieved through raising issues of identity and safety plays a key role to the creation of the borderline of belonging. As Agamben puts it, the logic of exception is deeply linked with the sovereign state. The sovereign power employs certain practices of securitisation producing a ‘bare life’, the life of the ‘homo sacer’ a life banned from conventional juridical and political structures (Agamben 1995).