ASA2016: Footprints and futures: the time of anthropology

Security and terror in the age of refugee crisis: imagining European futures after Paris
Location Science Site/Chemistry CG91
Date and Start Time 04 July, 2016 at 14:00
Sessions 2


  • Giorgos Tsimouris (Panteio University) email

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Short Abstract

The panel invites papers on the aftermath of the Paris attacks on the lives and rights of refugees in Europe. It welcomes anthropological investigations of securitisation, border intensification and the proliferation of states of exception with regards to human rights and refugee protection.

Long Abstract

The terrorist attacks of 9/11 marked a new era. Taking place in one of the world's most important financial centers and, presumably, one of the best-protected areas, they left no doubt that the security of non-military targets and privileged areas and groups of people in the US and elsewhere, has been irrevocably lost. The Paris attacks came as a reminder of this loss of security. The direct reaction of the French president, in the political line of Bush administration after September 2001, was to close the French borders to refugees and to 'retaliate' by striking ISIS's targets. The state or the 'scape' of security has been further deteriorated in the shadow of Paris terror and deaths. In the framework of these events, this panel addresses the following questions:

How did these events affect human rights, democracy and the lives of diverse groups of people around the world?

What is taken for granted on security issues and what could be the contribution of critical anthropology on this matter?

How security state and 'scape' operate for different nation-states, regions and groups of people?

What is the impact of the securitization processes on national and supranational borders and states of exception?

To what extent hegemonic states of security generate insecurity, policing, terror and control among the less privileged?

What is the rationale for the implementation of security commands, how global institutions enforced them and what is their impact on migratory and refugee movements?

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.


Integration experience of Bangladeshi migrants in UK: learning from an old migrant community in an age of refugee crisis

Authors: Papreen Nahar (University of Durham)  email
Nasima Akhter (Wolfson Research Institute for Health and Wellbeing)  email
Adetayo Kasim (University o f Durham)  email
Gillian Bentley (Durham University)  email
Gillian Cooper  email

Short Abstract

Lack of integration of migrants in mainstream society is a reason for security threats in a host country. We explore perceived discrimination and identity of British Bangladeshis from different generations and densities. Insights from old migrants may help better integration policies for new ones.

Long Abstract

Lack of integration of migrants in mainstream society is one reason for security threats in a host country. Integration is closely related to acculturation, the process of which includes attitudes and behaviours towards both the culture of origin and host culture which ultimately shapes the identity of the migrant population. Experiences of prejudice and discrimination are major factors making the acculturation process potentially stressful, which can hamper the wellbeing of those involved and contribute to home grown terror. Muslim communities in the UK are the most disadvantaged groups among South Asians. Scholars have noted that a perception of discrimination and sense of powerlessness may strengthen one's ethnic group identification and weaken ties to the national group.

The current paper aims to explore relationships between perceived racial discrimination and identity of British Bangladeshi migrants, one of the oldest migrant groups in UK. We use a perspective of examining groups representing different generations and different densities across England, a perspective which has not been previously explored. The study population comprises 562 Bangladeshi migrants who live in South England (London) and the Northeast. Preliminary analyses show there are significant differences between generations and regions in terms of perceived racial discrimination and identity. We hypothesis about some of the reasons for these differences. The insights from 'old migrants' may help in formulating better integration policies for new migrants which would help to embed these migrants into Britain's 'Big Society'.

Other co-authors: Gillian Cooper, Khrushida Begum, Sarah Curtis, Gillian Bentley (all University of Durham)

Greece, europe, and "the Others": negotiating mobility in Europe's borderlands

Author: Cynthia Malakasis  email

Short Abstract

This paper engages “mobility” and its positioning along the normal-aberrant, harmful-beneficial, and rightful-criminal conceptual spectra using data from the 2009-'10 public debate on Greece's first-ever jus soli legislative initiative.

Long Abstract

This paper engages "mobility" and its positioning along the normal-aberrant, harmful-beneficial, and rightful-criminal conceptual spectra using data from the 2009-'10 public debate on Greece's first-ever jus soli legislative initiative. The conversation on the country's political boundaries focused also on the issue of people crossing its physical borders-political membership was evaluated as an incentive for more arrivals; conversely, the possibility of more arrivals factored in the decision to grant political membership. I argue that conversations on seemingly technical topics, such as entry requirements or how many people Greece or Europe can "fit", reflect underlying ideological views on territory, belonging, and the crossing of national and supranational borders (evident in the differential value placed on security versus rights, for example, and with Islam emerging as a strongly invoked boundary). I place this analysis in the context of the power relation between Greece and Europe (as economic and political entity, and symbolic concept), and how this relation is re-negotiated at the advent of third-country nationals, but also shapes the latter's mobility and life chances. The debate I examine occurred a few years before the refugee "crisis", but issues such as the Dublin Regulation and the role of Frontex in guarding Greece's borders are still central. Further, the core assumptions of the 2009-'10 discourses shape and inform present discourses as well. The paper draws on parliamentary proceedings, news items, and conversations in online fora, examining the views of social actors situated along the ideological spectrum, as well as along several power-knowledge continua.

On their way to paradise: Syrian refugees in Greece

Author: Gerasimos Makris (Panteion University)  email

Short Abstract

The paper studies the experiences of Syrian refugees currently in Greece on their way elsewhere to Europe. It traces the changes that shape the lives of Muslim refugees who flee the war-torn Middle East only to find themselves stigmatised as Muslims and thus potential enemies of their reluctant saviours

Long Abstract

The organisation Islamic State has been portrayed as the deadliest form of Islamism destroying the Middle East. In the process, through exporting terrorist violence, enticing European youth, Muslim but often converts, and forcing caravans of migrants to flee the region, the IS appears to threaten the socio-political stability of Europe itself.

While at the institutional level the EU hovers between humanistic declarations and an endless redrawing of desperate containment policies, in practice we observe the slow but unmistaken articulation of a securitisation discourse whose obvious victims are two: European public liberties and the refugees themselves. The almost naturalised distinction between migrants and refugees, which ostensibly concerned mainly the economy, is further complicated not only by the fear of jihadi infiltration but increasingly so by the very Muslim identity of the refugees themselves.

The paper studies the experiences of mainly Syrian refugees who are currently in Greece on their way elsewhere to Europe with the assistance of a faith-related NGO. This is a work in progress which traces the rapid and as a rule unexpected changes that shape the lives of Muslim refugees who flee the war-torn Middle East only to find themselves stigmatised as Muslims and thus as potential enemies of their reluctant saviours. Often ignorant of the socio-political situation in Greece and in Europe in general, which in all cases appears as quicksand rather than solid ground and traps all parties concerned, the refugees discuss their first taste of a Paradise whose nakedness reveals itself at their every step.

Debunking the EU refugee policy with its own weapons: the prospect of refugee militarisation and the insecure securitisation of EU's refugee policy

Author: Marina Eleftheriadou (University of Peloponnese)  email

Short Abstract

The paper will examine EU’s refugee policy, demonstrating how hotspots might actually lead to radicalisation and militarisation of refugees. By adopting a security oriented approach, the aim of the paper is to show that the securitisation of refugee policy increases in fact long-term insecurity.

Long Abstract

Since 2011, the Mediterranean has become EU's ultimate frontier against the turmoil in its southern neighbourhood. A growing flow of refugees and migrants risk death to reach Europe, yet they keep banging on the wall of a 'Fortress Europe', amidst increasing securitisation of the debate around migration. The contradiction between the gradual erasure of borders within the EU and the fortification and securitisation of its outer frontier has generated a two-tier policy that draws a second 'invisible' (front)line in the European South. As EU moves towards creating hotspots in first-entry countries in European South, the latter increasingly become a 'first line defence' against 'unwanted intruders'.

EU policy raises several issues of humanitarian, legal and institutional nature. However, this paper will employ the same security-oriented arguments, that EU promotes, to showcase the non-viability of this policy. Taking into account the size of the migrant flow and the fact that less than 50% of the decisions on asylum are positive at first instance, the hotspots will largely resemble refugee camps and refugee-camp dynamics are expected to develop in and around them. Drawing on refugee (camp) militarization literature, the paper will examine the characteristics of the refugee population, the state capacity of the host countries, the living conditions in and around the hotspots and the tensions with host communities. Under these conditions of confinement and hostility, radicalization and militarisation is certain to ensue, leading to the same insecurity that EU strives to avoid.

Greece as a borderland in the age of refugee crisis and securitization: rethinking Europe from its borders

Authors: Giorgos Tsimouris (Panteio University)  email
Elisabeth Kirtsoglou (Durham University)  email

Short Abstract

Considering Greece Europe's borderland in the age of refugee crisis my aim is to challenge and to theorize securitization processes driving European states to close further their borders despite the fact that the association of immigration with terrorism is not supported by evidence.

Long Abstract

The year 2015 Greece, the 'undisciplined' and marginal 'European other' was found again at the center of European political interest and criticism as the country became the largest gate through which almost one million of refugees and undocumented immigrants entered the European territory. On the top of that, the Paris terrorist attacks of December of 2015 brought up forcibly the issue of securitization of European borders and in this respect Greece as the main gate of entrance of refugees and immigrants. Despite of the fact that, 6 out of the 8 terrorists were European citizens, the attack operated as a pretext for the implementation of extremely strict immigration policies. Paradoxically, not only in France but also in Hungary and in Poland the decision to close the borders in the middle of refugee crisis increased the popularity of the anti-immigration leaders while Merkel in Germany supporting more open immigration policies saw her popularity to diminish. My aim in this paper is twofold: Firstly, to theorize these rapid developments concerning securitization and its association with immigration. Secondly, to raise further questions regarding Greece as Europe's borderland not merely on geographical grounds, but because in Greece and in the Aegean European immigration policies are blatantly exposed manifesting the large gap between European rhetoric on human rights and the realities of European biopolitics and thanatopolitics.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.