Constructing an evidence base of contemporary Mediterranean migrations

Imiscoe Spring Conference 2016

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18-19 February 2016 – Copenhagen

Prof. Eleonore Kofman and Dr. Alessio D’Angelo will contribute to the next IMISCOE Spring Conference in Copenhagen presenting preliminary findings from ther ESRC-funded ‘EVI-MED’ project.

For further information about the conference visit the IMISCOE Spring 2016 webpage.

The abstracts of our two presentations are available below.


Refugee crisis of reception crisis? A critical map of migrants’ reception systems in the Mediterranean

Alessio D’Angelo, Middlesex University  

The recent surge of migrants crossing the Mediterranean in search of protection has presented a major challenge for the European Union and its Member States. What has been often labelled as a ‘refugee crisis’ is first and foremost a crisis of international politics and the result of inadequate response mechanisms at national and local level.   This paper is informed by emerging findings from a broad-ranging ESRC-funded research project (‘EVI-MED’). It presents an analysis of local systems of arrivals management and of the complex interaction between state-actors, local NGOs and social enterprises, focussing in particular on the case of Sicily. The Italian island has been – together with Greece – the main area of arrival for those crossing the sea heading to Northern Europe. Its recent history has been marked by dramatic shipwrecks, reported violations of human rights, and scandals concerning the management of some reception centres. Most recently, Sicily was identified to host the regional office of Frontex (the European borders management agency) and a number of newly branded ‘hot-spots’, which are already attracting criticism for potentially creating more problems than they solve. However Sicily also presents  many examples of good practice of reception, front-line support and human rights monitoring, particularly thanks to the work of independent organisations and local volunteers, an aspect very often under-represented in media discourses and research.
This paper aims to provide a ‘critical map’ of Sicily, discussing and visualising a rapidly evolving scenario and raising questions about the near future and lessons to be learned.

Monitoring, Controlling, Producing Subjectivities: Lessons learnt from current  research on the Mediterranean Migration Crisis.  

Elisabeth Kirtsoglou, Durham University, and Eleonore Kofman, Middlesex University  

Our session brings together two projects (funded by the UK Economic and Social Research Council), currently working in parallel and investigating the Mediterranean migration crisis as this unfolds in three main locations, Sicily, Malta and the Eastern Aegean islands. Based on original quantitative and qualitative field-research we wish to offer a critical comparative review of the technologies used to monitor migration in these regions. We will focus on the procedures of screening, defining and categorising subjects and on their effects in the production of migrant/refugee subjectivities and taxonomies.  The representation of subjects in terms of economic migrants/refugees, age, gender and kin relationships, has a bearing on the ways they are designated as being worthy of protection, or not, and recipients of resources from the state, NGOs and civil society.
Our approach thus  places weight on the perspectives of  migrants, authorities, and actors implicated in the provision of humanitarian aid and local communities. With specific reference to the latter, we are especially interested in narratives of sympathy/empathy as these co-exist with feelings and  experiences of loss of control and xenophobia. Reflecting on the first wave of data collected by our projects, we intend to consider carefully the proposition that the ‘migration crisis’ in the Mediterranean is partly produced by the very policies and processes that attempt to  ‘control’ and ‘contain’ it.



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