This book is an ethnography of the Balkan Route - a migratory passage, and part of larger events which in 2015/2016 became labelled as the “refugee crisis”. Based on ethnographic fieldwork conducted in various tranches between 2013 and 2021 in North Macedonia and Serbia, and supported by anthropological, historical, political science literature, the book discusses migration through the Balkan Peninsula and the reaction of local communities to it in the context of European Union (EU) enlargement.
It pays special attention to the so-called “refugee crisis” of 2015/2016, which, reshaped the border regime in Southeastern Europe (SEE). The novelty of this border regime lies in the push back practices, which oppose the principle of non-refoulement guaranteed under international human rights law. Additionally, a new feature of the border regimes in SEE is the normalisation of the EU border guards’ violence as a method of migration deterrence that was not practiced before 2015 in this region. Furthermore, the new quality of the European border regime is an entrapment of migrants in circular mobility, stranded in a liminal space at the gates to the EU. In this ambiguous space of transit and space of containment, border crossers are “caught in mobility”, neither able to go further or return. Finally, the disturbing occurrences that took place at the turn of 2015 and 2016 gave rise to a strong and stable civil society dedicated to migration issues.
Consequently, this monograph shows how the EU border regime is designed to ensure security, rule of law, and free movement of the privileged ones, while at the same time keeping away the so-called ‘third countries citizens’ – migrants’, deskilled workers and other categories of vulnerable people, who accordingly become subject to the ever more rigorous rules that allow or deny entry and keep them in a precarious liminal space. This space overflows with violence and the irregular and chaotic movement of people, whose poor economic ‘usability’ is perceived as a burden to welfare state. Furthermore, the book shows that the attempts to “protect” the external EU borders not only unnecessarily risk human lives but also simply do not stop migrants’ movement. In this sense, they are unproductive; if anything, they seem to create hyper mobile classes that circulate in precarious zones.
Regions: Europe, Poland, North Macedonia, Serbia
Keywords: Society, Policy - society, Politics, Public Dialogue - society, Humanities, Policy - Humanities, Public Dialogue - Humanities