41. The Mediterranean as a laboratory of border externalization. Ethnographic perspectives from the south

Ilaria Giglioli – University of San Francisco: igiglioli@usfca.edu
Timothy Raeymaekers – University of Bologna: timothy.raeymaekers@unibo.it

In critical border studies, it is well known that territorial boundaries are not simply lines on the map, but rather complex devises that channel and filter mobile flows (Casas-Cortes, Cobarrubias, and Pickles 2014; Mountz and Loyd 2018; Parker and Vaughan-Williams 2009). Within the nation-state and beyond, sites of bordering have multiplied through territorial devices (walls, barriers and checkpoints), as well as practices of surveillance and securitization at multiple scales (camps, detention centres, housing facilities for migrants, individual bodies).

Countries of the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean (also known as the MENA or SWANA region) have increasingly become epicentres of these bordering and surveillance practices (Bialasiewicz 2012; Celata and Coletti 2017; Dini and Giusa 2020; Gazzotti 2021). As the European Union has sought to ‘outsource’ the securitization of its borders to countries such as Morocco, Libya, or Turkey, these areas have witnessed a rise of both territorial securitization, and practices of surveillance towards potential migrants (be they their own citizens or those of other countries) (Gross-Wyrtzen 2020). These transformations of the Mediterranean border regime have led to a proliferation of actors and institutions responsible for identifying, filtering, and channelling mobile flows, as well as the emergence of new solidarities between migrants and activists in the MENA region, across the Mediterranean and beyond (Cuttitta 2018; Dini and Giusa 2020). In addition, they have also engendered contrasting imaginaries and visions on and of the Mediterranean (examples are the neo-Fascist imaginations of Mare Nostrum on one hand, and the Black Mediterranean and the Manifesto for Mediterranean Citizenship on the other (see e.g. Proglio et al. 2021). 

This panel focuses on the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean as violent laboratories of the ‘multiplication’ of borders. We seek to understand the multiple practices through which border externalization is occurring, and the range of actors who support, participate in, or contest these processes. We are particularly interested in the types of symbolic boundaries and hierarchies that are being created in these intermediate spaces – for instance through the accentuation of divisions between North and Sub-Saharan Africa(ns), or – alternatively – the creation of new solidarities. We are also interested in how processes of border externalization, and the material and symbolic hierarchies this entails, play into existing imaginaries of the Mediterranean. 

Specifically, we invite social science and humanities scholars whose research is grounded in ethnographic methods to share their perspectives around these types of questions:

  • What actors, infrastructures and forms of knowledge are involved in contemporary border externalizations in the Mediterranean?
  • What similarities or connections might we see between bordering practices within Europe (particularly Southern Europe) and the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean? 
  • How do processes of border externalization reconfigure the Mediterranean space – both in imaginary and in embodied terms?
  • How have cross-Mediterranean or South-South solidarity movements responded to border externalization? How might new epistemologies such as the Black Mediterranean allow for the building of new solidarities?

The panel convenors specifically welcome contributions from scholars who are either based in or focus on the Mediterranean.

Key words: borders, migration, ethnography, geography, Mediterranean

Bialasiewicz, Luiza. 2012. “Off-Shoring and Out-Sourcing the Borders of EUrope: Libya and EU Border Work in the Mediterranean.” Geopolitics 17(4): 843–66.

Casas-Cortes, Maribel, Sebastian Cobarrubias, and John Pickles. 2014. “‘Good Neighbours Make Good Fences’: Seahorse Operations, Border Externalization and Extra-Territoriality.” European Urban and Regional Studies: 0969776414541136.

Celata, Filippo, and Raffaella Coletti. 2017. “Borderscapes of External Europeanization in the Mediterranean Neighbourhood.” European Urban and Regional Studies: 0969776417717309.

Cuttitta, Paolo. 2018. “Delocalization, Humanitarianism, and Human Rights: The Mediterranean Border Between Exclusion and Inclusion.” Antipode 50(3): 783–803.

Dini, Sabine, and Caterina Giusa. 2020. Externalising Migration Governance through Civil Society. Tunisia as a Case Study. Palgrave Macmillan.

Gazzotti, Lorena. 2021. Immigration Nation. Aid, Control, and Border Politics in Morocco. Cambridge University Press.

Gross-Wyrtzen, Leslie. 2020. “Contained and Abandoned in the ‘Humane’ Border: Black Migrants’ Immobility and Survival in Moroccan Urban Space.” Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 38(5): 887–904.

Mountz, Alison, and Jenna M Loyd. 2018. Boats, Borders, and Bases: Race, the Cold War, and the Rise of Migration Detention in the United States. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Parker, Noel, and Nick Vaughan-Williams. 2009. “Lines in the Sand? Towards an Agenda for Critical Border Studies.” Geopolitics 14(3): 582–87.

Proglio, Gabriele et al., eds. 2021. The Black Mediterranean: Bodies, Borders and Citizenship. Palgrave Macmillan.

Lascia un commento

Il tuo indirizzo email non sarà pubblicato. I campi obbligatori sono contrassegnati *