Degrees of liquidity on the Aegean: ships, migrants and connecting waters around Lesvos
Spathopoulou, Aila (2015) Degrees of liquidity on the Aegean: ships, migrants and connecting waters around Lesvos. [Thesis]
This thesis explores the different stories and texts (newspapers, documents, conventions, reports) that produce partially discordant ‘narratives’ and that, consequently, delineate different patterns of mobility on the Aegean border between Turkey and Greece. Darkness, Turkey, Greece, coastguards, ‘Europe’ and refugees, past and present, death and life, are connected on this border and create what I call the ‘liquid’ border of the Aegean to borrow Bauman’s felicitous phrase ‘liquid’. Through an historical and ethnographic gaze along with some of the theoretical tools provided to us by the discipline of cultural studies -particularly Gilroy’s conceptual framework of the ‘ship’ as a micro-political and micro-cultural symbol in motion-, I deconstruct the Aegean border in order to examine what I call the different degrees of proximity to ‘liquidity’ on the Aegean border, that is, the watery flows of ‘privilege’ in relation to the two most recent spaces of movement: the ferry transferring Turkish tourists and the inflatable-rubber boat carrying undocumented-migrants. An study of these two journeys along with what I see as their effectual meanings of liquidity, rather than revealing an ‘open door’ for some and a ‘wall’ for others, what they show us, I content, is the ‘liquid’ relation between nationalism and racism expanding on the Aegean waters, on the one hand, and a more planetary cosmopolitanism, on the other. In order to conclude, I propose De Genova’s concept of a ‘migration of struggles’ as a theoretical and ethnographical tool to explore emerging alternative ways of interacting with difference on the Aegean.
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