In the past weeks and way into the Corona-crisis on many balconies throughout Germany you could see banners warning "Don´t forget Moria". And popular German columnist Margarete Stokowski ironically commented on the fact that the German government forced itself to receive 50 refugee children from the Greek hotspots, but did not refrain from inviting 80 000 people from Eastern Europe - flown into Germany over closed borders to help out in the harvest of Asparagus.
So, borders differ. That should not surprise us. Borders have a certain dynamic. They can be inexistant for some, unsurpassable for others, they can be semi-permeable, may fade away, be forgotten and suddenly resurrect with new vigor.
The so called "refugee crisis" that started in 2015/16 most blatantly shows the multidimensionality of European borders with internally the free movement of people, goods and services, against external isolation, respectively compartmentalization. The latter is visible in the critical discourses evolving around FRONTEX, respectively migration and border policies in Southern Europe that included the creation of "first reception facilities" commonly called hotspots.
These hotspots were the EU´s most immediate response to the crisis: Four of them are to be found in Apulia and Sicily, five on the Aegean islands. As camps of registration and temporary accommodation they are a completely new phenomenon. Hundreds of thousands of people have passed them since 2015. Many have been held there for months, even years.
Particularly the Greek hotspots - and there above all Moria - have been criticized for their dreadful living conditions. Human rights organizations and media throughout Europe have been criticizing the camps as a cynical European deterrence strategy admonishing the gross human rights violations of asylum rights, and human dignity. European officials, in turn, have blamed the crisis management of the national and local authorities, while local populations are deeply divided between empathy and resentment with growing culture and security-related fears.
In how far are the hotspots representations of the present (and future) European migration policies? How do the discourses evolving around them represent the broader discursive cleavages around Europe? How does European, national and local level interact in shaping and proplonging realities on the ground of these hotspots?
On that note, the seminar will focus on the political practices and accompanying discourses that relate to these hotspots perceived as a symbol and symptom of European refugee and migration policies. Drawing on discourse theory and theories of nationalism, on notions of "Europe" and the practices of migration management since 2015, we will examine and contrast the discourses on and daily realities of these hotspots as presented and discussed in reports, documentaries, monographs and social media by political officials, NGOs, humanitarian workers and selected local media.
The seminar will be an inverted classroom: This means, you will have the chance to lead one of our sessions, guiding the discussion on one selected topic.