Writings & Updates

Hotspot politics―or, when the EU state gets real

What is a hotspot? Ask a random passer-by in your average city street and the by now ubiquitous wireless internet access point will most probably come up immediately in response: the hotspot is somewhere that connects you to the internet’s everywhere. Ask most European Union officials, however, and the very same word will make them sing the praises of the EU’s blueprint for a holistic approach to the migration crisis: a very special “somewhere” that may very well be on its way to become―as this editorial wishes to warn―a new kind of “everywhere”, one that commences with the decades-long European integration finally reaching a tangible form.

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“The hegemonic powers of the EU have gone one step too far”: On governing borders and the right to move

Soon after the March 18 EU-Turkey deal, the first boats began returning migrants from Greece to Turkey. The previous migration and border regime run by the EU and parts of the international community had officially ceased to operate. An emerging new border regime now produces new categories of deservedness and differentiated inclusion and exclusion. Who deserves international protection? Where is safe? What does it mean to be inside the EU territory? Where is this ‘inside’ to be found, and what marks the transition from the outside?

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Humanitarian Space and Border Management in Lesbos

The EU-Turkey deal and the creation of ‘hotspots’ has catalysed a shift from humanitarianism to securitisation on the Greek islands, shrinking the space for humanitarian action.The latest EU-Turkey deal is the culmination of months of attempts by the European Commission to take control of the eastern Mediterranean, a space that has recently seen the arrival of over one million people as well as unprecedented displays of solidarity by people across Europe.

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The EU Security Apparatus: Designed to Fail

I am in transit once again and it was here, on the move, that the terrible news from Brussels caught up with me. In this, I suspect, I am not alone. By this point in time there are so many of us caught in this seemingly endless state of movement. From those walking down the stairs into a typical metro station, at a whatever bus station waiting to head to work, to those habitually waiting to board a flight to a close or far-flung destination, this latest attack (as I am sure someone will describe more eloquently than me) may very well be an attack on our new normal, this always-on-the-move mode of being.

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Hot-spots: Welcome to EU-Land

It is only too easy to be caught into the hustle and bustle of updates on the unfolding crisis: to be dragged into closely following minute-by-minute trackers from one “crucial summit” after another, in reading into a country’s swagging around, into demands raised and dropped, interim agreements reached and breached: heck, to even be caught into trying to understand what the lunch menu of attendants might have to do with this all. It is only too easy, in other words, to read this crisis and its management as an endlessly consecutive, theatre-like play of political actors entering the spotlight to decide the fate of those people dismissed as “flows”. Yet while this is all unfolding, and keeping well away from the spotlight for now, a crucial process plays out: the process of establishing and rendering operative the so-called ‘hot spots’ – including in the Greek island of Lesbos, which is where this brief video was filmed.

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Crisis or Zemblanity? Viewing the ‘Migration Crisis’ through a Greek Lens

Yannis Christodoulou, Evie Papada, Anna Papoutsi & Antonis Vradis

Transcapes Research Collective

This intervention traces how Europe is being (re-)produced through ‘crises’ on three scales. Firstly, at the level of national territory, looking at the crisis-ridden Greek state. Secondly, through everyday border practices on the island of Lesbos and, finally, in the Mediterranean that acts as Europe’s primary locus for its aggregate (and often experimental) bordering practices.

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Upside down Athens

The transformation of Victoria Square in Athens is emblematic of the new model of top-down control of populations that Europe is moving towards. For a split second the setting – in which the action unfolding before my eyes – feels entirely unfamiliar.

There I am, standing in the middle of one of the busiest streets surrounding Victoria square, an area that I would consider to know well enough. But this is all too baffling: The hustling and bustling in front of me takes place in immaculate English – the employees of an about-to-open Salvation Army thrift shop unloading the merchandise as they prepare for their launch.

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Lesbos February 2016

The situation at the hotspots appears different to what we saw a month ago. For one, individuals are not allowed entry to the part where people in transit are staying and police stressed that a license from the Ministry of Interior is required for entry in the premises.

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