Photographer Ignacio Evangelista has made a beautiful series titled “After Schengen” where he photographed old border control checkpoints between EU Member States that are no longer in service since the Schengen agreement. See the full series here.
These places that prior the Schengen treaty, delimited territories and in which the traveler had to stop and show his documents, currently appear as abandoned places, located in a space-time limbo, out of use and out of the time for which they were designed, as these states have opened their borders to the free movement of people. The observation of these places in the present time, gives them a dimension related to viewing and reading of some episodes in recent history, with the passing of time and memory in the landscape. These quasi- archaeological ruins have become part of the current landscape, forming a presence of the past that lies dormant in the present.
In the US there is some controversy on what to call the “immigrant detention centers” where people are held who crossed the Southern US border and want to apply for asylum. Adam Hodges at Anthropology Nows provides his reflections on “What to Call US Border Detention Centers?” and if it is appropriate to name them as concentration camps:
If we could entertain the complexities of the type of historical comparison that [Emil] Kerenji suggests, we would recognize how the “banality of evil,” as described by Hannah Arendt, allows bureaucrats, border agents, and government staff to go about their jobs while eschewing responsibility for the policies they have been charged with implementing. We would recognize the role dehumanizing rhetoric plays in enabling the mistreatment of others, how that rhetoric coupled with the force of law and a sense of duty sways otherwise good people to do abhorrent things, and how that rhetoric keeps the public indifferent and silent in the face of atrocities carried out in their name.
Claire Walkey from the Oxford Refugee Studies Centre writes about why we should rethink refugee registration. Registration is the first moment when asylum-seekers become known by the state, so we might assume that states will always want to implement registration procedures to monitor people. But her fieldwork in Kenya shows that this is not always the case as here the government actually stopped the registration procedures. According to her we therefore need to “look for answers in the meaning and politics of registration itself”, as registration can be a form of empowerment for refugees:
Acknowledging the legal recognition that registration can offer refugees sheds light on why states, resistant to hosting refugees, might choose not to register them. It is too easy to assume, given security practices especially in the West, that states will always pursue bureaucratic surveillance and monitoring of refugees. In Kenya, it is politically prudent to resist legal recognition, even at the expense of bureaucratic surveillance. The promotion of registration by the international community may therefore find little traction by focusing purely on the security gain for states, particularly in contexts with weak administrative infrastructures. It is prudent instead to rethink registration and recognize that at times it offers more to refugees than to states.
In The Hague church, preachers have been speaking day and night since the end of October in order to provide shelter for an Armenian family, as the government is not allowed to interrupt a Church service on the grounds of deportation. Read more here.
“Despite celebrations this year that the Berlin Wall had now been down for longer than it was ever up, Europe has now completed the equivalent length of six Berlin walls during the same period” (note that actually it should say EU member states though) Read the full article from The Independent here.
An article on refugee abuse made me think of Judith Butler on the Abu Ghraib prison questioning what it “means to become ethically responsive, to consider and attend to the suffering of others, and, more generally, of which frames permit for the representability of the human and which do not”.
The European parliament group GUENGL raises concerns about the proposed interoperability proposal of EU commission and how it will link information collected for different purposes for the sake of migration control and crime prevention.
AT Oxford University today at the Refugees Studies Center. Picture from the closing panel discussion of this fascinating workshop on “Deconstructing Biometric Refugee Registration” @refugeestudies @ProcessCitizens.