Σάββατο, 27 Σεπτεμβρίου 2014


Publication Name: Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 2014, 
volume 32, pages 000 – 000


The biopolitical border in practice: surveillance and death at the Greece–Turkey borderzones

Özgün E Topak
Department of Sociology, D431 Mackintosh-Corry, Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, 
Canada K7L 3N6; e-mail:
Received 17 May 2013; in revised form 29 March 2014; published online 28 August 2014

This paper examines biopolitical control practices at the Greece–Turkey borders and addresses current debates in the study of borders and biopolitics. The Greek and Frontex authorities have established diverse surveillance mechanisms to control the borderzone space and to monitor, intercept, apprehend, and push back migrants or to block their passage. The location of contemporary borders has been much debated in the literature. This paper provides a nuanced understanding of borders by demonstrating that while borders are diffusing beyond and inside state territories, their practices and effects are concentrated at the edges of state territories—ie, borderzones. Borderzones are biopolitical spaces in which surveillance is most intense and migrants suffer the direct threat of injury and death. Applying biopolitics in the context of borderzones also prompts us to revisit the concept. While Foucault posits that biopolitics is the product of the historical transition away from sovereign powers controlling territory and imposing practices of death towards governmental powers managing population mainly through pastoral, productive, and deterritorialized techniques, the case of the Greece–Turkey borderzones demonstrates that biopolitics operates through sovereign territorial controls and surveillance, practices of death and exclusion, and suspension of rights. This study also highlights the fact that, despite the biopolitical realities, migrants continue to cross the borders.

Keywords: Greece–Turkey borders, surveillance, biopolitics, border ethnography, migration control, human rights


An Inside Look at EU's Shameful Immigration Policy
By Maximilian Popp
3. Part: Greece-Turkey

On Jan. 19, a boat carrying refugees capsized en route from Turkey to Greece and 12 people, women and children, drowned in plain view of the Greek coast guard. At least seven migrants died in a similar accident in the Aegean Sea in March, six in April and at least 22 in May.
Rana Fida, 42, steps onto the balcony of her refugee apartment on the Greek island of Lesbos. Looking out at the sea she crossed to get there, she says: "It's a miracle to be here."
Fida and her 12-year-old twins, Aya and Abdullah, tried three times to flee to Europe from Syria, using the land route through Turkey. Twice they were detained by Bulgarian security forces and sent back to Turkey and the third time Turkish police detained the family. On the fourth attempt, Fida risked her life and that of her children by boarding a trafficker's inflatable boat.
This is a direct consequence of Frontex's efforts to secure the borders. Until recently, refugees in the southeastern Mediterranean region were able to reach Europe by land. But then, in response to pressure from the EU, Greece sealed off its border with Turkey. In 2012, the Greek government applied the Melilla model and built a 10.5-kilometer border fence at the Evros River, deployed 1,800 additional police officers and opened new internment camps for migrants. In 2011 and 2012, Frontex invested about 37 million in Operation Poseidon to secure the Greek-Turkish border. A few kilometers to the north, Bulgaria, with EU support, has just completed a 30-kilometer metal fence along a section of the border.
The technical upgrades are all part of "effective border management," say officials at Frontex.
More and more refugees are now taking the sea route. At least 218 people died in the Aegean between August 2012 and July 2014. According to human rights organizations, the Greek coast guard forced some of them back into the open sea, where they drowned.
Rana Fida, who doesn't want to use her real name, is rubbing prayer beads. She is wearing a long black skirt and a headscarf.


Pavlos Pavlidis travaille depuis quatorze ans à la morgue de l’hôpital d’Alexandroupolis. Le protocole d’identification qu’il a mis en place est désormais appliqué dans toute la Grèce.

© Cécile Debarge

Episode 2 / Identifier les corps et retrouver les familles.

Lorsque les corps ont été ramenés à terre ou retrouvés le long de la frontière, comment les identifier et permettre aux familles de les retrouver ? Dans le nord-est de la Grèce, un médecin légiste se démène pour leur rendre une identité et peut compter sur des relais dans tout le pays pour tenter de retrouver leurs proches.

Il ne reste des corps retrouvés près de l’Evros que ce que le fleuve a consenti à leur laisser. A certains, la vie sauve pour quelques heures avant que le froid ne glace leurs vêtements encore mouillés. On les retrouve morts d’hypothermie, figés dans ce qui fut leur dernier instant. A d’autres, noyés avant d’atteindre la rive, il ne reste qu’une couleur de peau que l’on devine à peine, un corps dévoré par les eaux sombres du fleuve et l’anonymat de ceux que personne ne pourra plus reconnaître.