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Re-Making Futures at the Borders of Europe: Asylum, Containment, and the Pursuit of Imagined Migration Trajectories on Hotspot Island Lesvos, Greece

De Graaf, Sabine; (2024) Re-Making Futures at the Borders of Europe: Asylum, Containment, and the Pursuit of Imagined Migration Trajectories on Hotspot Island Lesvos, Greece. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

After the implementation of the EU-Turkey Statement in 2016, the island of Lesvos in Greece transformed from an island of transit to a place of long-term containment of asylum seekers. Designated as a hotspot island, asylum seekers on Lesvos faced geographical restrictions and a fast-track border procedure that forced them to remain on the island until their asylum procedures were completed. In 2017 and 2018, between 5.000 and 15.000 asylum seekers remained on the island indefinitely without knowing what their future would hold. Many of them lived in Moria camp, the largest refugee camp in the Aegean, which had become notorious for its dire circumstances and inhumane living conditions. This thesis is a study of the lives of asylum seekers contained on this hotspot island. The data was collected through fourteen months of ethnographic fieldwork. Anthropological literature on islands of containment such as Lesvos so far has provided important insights into the workings of the border regime. Much academic attention has been given to the harmful consequences of spatial and temporal confinement on the lives of asylum seekers who are stuck on the island indefinitely. Through an analytical lens of future-making, this thesis shows another side of these lives, one that challenges the representation asylum seekers as liminal people stuck in a place with little control or influence over the uncertainty of their situation. Inspired by Appadurai’s (2013) vision of people as future-makers and Joseph Weiss’ (2018) understanding of future-making as a way to take control over one’s temporalities, this thesis explores how the experience of containment comes to bear on orientations of the future. Prolonged containment can make it difficult for asylum seekers to imagine or plan for their future. However, this does not mean they do not continue to try and pursue them. Furthermore, people’s present actions and relationalities that follow from containment also impact their imagined possibilities. In this thesis, I argue that asylum seekers adapted to their situation of prolonged containment on Lesvos and resisted some of the restrictions and controls laid upon them through various acts of future-making.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Re-Making Futures at the Borders of Europe: Asylum, Containment, and the Pursuit of Imagined Migration Trajectories on Hotspot Island Lesvos, Greece
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2023. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Anthropology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10186450
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