Maurice Stierl, Mellon Visiting Assistant Professor
African American and African Studies Brown Bag Lecture
Wednesday, November 4th, 12:00 pm, 3201 Hart Hall
More than half a million people crossed the Mediterranean Sea and reached the territories of the EU in the first nine months of 2015. Estimates are that about 3000 travellers drowned at sea or died when seeking to overcome other border obstacles. As a reaction to maritime disasters and dramatically rising numbers of arrivals, as well as the continuously violent conflicts in places such as Syria, Libya and Ukraine, EU member states and institutions furthered their policies of deterrence, inter alia by declaring war on smuggler networks operating in Libya. Efforts to securitise borders, to deter and criminalise human movement seem increasingly desperate in the light of the stubborn will of millions to move toward central and northern Europe. Due to these unprecedented mobilities, the existing European system of population control has collapsed, leading EU member states to declare states of exception and resurrect and militarise national borders. While anti-migrant groups and right-wing populism are on the rise amongst European societies, we also witness political mobilisations in solidarity with people on the move. As a member of the activist network ‘Watch The Med Alarm Phone’ which created a ‘hotline’ for people in distress at sea, I will re-narrate some of the experience made in our first year of existence during which we were able to assist thousands of travellers in situations of acute emergency when attempting to cross the most deadly borderzone of the world.