Displacement and the creation of emplaced activism: Public interventions on the walls of a European border city [Abstract]

Recommended citation

Karathanasis, P., and Kapsali, K. (2018). ‘Displacement and the creation of emplaced activism: Public interventions on the walls of a European border city’, entanglements, 1(2): 52-61.



Displacement is a process that affects the places of departure as well as the places of arrival. One such place of arrival has been the island of Lesvos in the northeast Aegean Sea. Lesvos has been a place through which hundreds of thousands of displaced people passed, on their way to Europe, during the period of the “Refugee Crisis” (2015-2016). The urgency, however, of this massive influx, led to the arrival of several humanitarian actors, as well as activists, and volunteers, who played a vital role in the reception of the displaced, forming official and unofficial support networks. Today, despite the proclaimed ending of the ‘crisis’, more than 7.000 people still reside in camps and other facilities within and around the capital of Mytilene. The ‘hotspots’ policy of the European and Greek authorities, including the EU-Turkey statement and the ‘geographical restriction’ of the asylum seekers on the islands, keeps asylum seekers in a liminal and in-between position; in-between asylum and deportation or in-between the lives they left behind and those they can only imagine. In an attempt to approach the liminal condition in which the asylum seekers are being placed, our video-presentation focuses on the slogans and other public interventions on the walls of Mytilene, which are related to the self-organized refugee support networks. These interventions, created by local and international activists, as well as by people on the move, can be seen as the results of a renewed emplaced activism that reacts to the ‘hotspot’ technologies of humanitarian governance as well as to the deportation regime in place in Lesvos and the other Aegean islands.