Surveillance, Subjectivity and Resistance at the Frontiers of Europe: A Materialist Analysis of the Greece-Turkey Borders

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Topak, Ozgun E.
Surveillance , The Greece-Turkey Borders , Irregular Migration , Migrant Activism , Migrant Subjectivity , Ethnography , Citizenship , Human Rights , Security , Materialism , Foucault , Althusser , Political Sociology , European Union Borders
The Greece-Turkey borders have become one of the main points of undocumented entry into the European Union since 2009. The borders operate through complex elements: historical processes that shape their structure, ideologies that legitimize their violent existence, techniques and technologies that allow them to be practiced over migrants, and migrants complying with or resisting these structures, ideologies, techniques, and technologies. In order to provide a comprehensive analysis of these complex elements of the border, this dissertation critically engages with Althusser’s aleatory materialism, Foucault’s analytics of power and other complementary theories, and it analyzes the four aspects of the border in individual chapters. 1. Structural-decentred aspects of the border: The dissertation analyzes the historical material processes of colonialism and racism and the contemporary material processes of neoliberal globalization and post-politics that enable the EU borders to function as a decentred totality and to exclude certain peoples and not others. 2. Practical aspects of the border: The dissertation analyzes how the border operates in practice with specific surveillance technologies (such as radar systems and EUROSUR mechanisms at the borderzones) and techniques (such as everyday racist violence in urban contexts) that produce specific biopolitical effects on migrants. 3. Subjective aspects of the border: The dissertation analyzes how migrants develop diverse subjectivities when confronted by the border’s material violence, including stranger subjectivity, abject subjectivity, religious subjectivity, nomadic subjectivity, and dissident subjectivity. 4. Contested aspects of the border: Drawing on the case of 300 Migrant Hunger Strikers in Greece, the dissertation analyzes the material conditions of possibility for political contestation of the border. The dissertation draws on fieldwork data collected from border authorities, migrants, NGO workers and political activists in Greece and Turkey in May-September 2012 and from secondary data from publicly accessible resources. This dissertation provides a complex and nuanced understanding of surveillance, borders, and migrant subjectivities and politics through putting an emphasis on how the border is practiced, on the experiences of the affected migrants, as well as on the deeper and enduring material structures that frame the practices of the border and experiences of the migrants.
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