Temporality and the crossing of borders in Europe

Migrating borders and moving times explores how crossing borders entails shifting time as well as changing geographical location. Space has long dominated the field of border studies, a prominence which the recent ‘spatial turn’ in social science has reinforced. This book challenges the classic analytical pre-eminence of ‘space’ by focusing on how ‘border time’ is shaped by, shapes and constitutes the borders themselves.

Using original field data from Israel, northern Europe and Europe's south-eastern borders (Kosovo, Albania, Montenegro, Sarajevo, Lesbos), our contributors explore ‘everyday forms of border temporality’ – the ways in which people through their temporal practices manage, shape, represent and constitute the borders across which they move or at which they are made to halt. In these accounts, which are based on fine-tuned ethnographic research sensitive to historical depth and wider political-economic context and transformation, ‘moving’ is understood not only as mobility but as affect, where borders become not just something to be ‘crossed’ but something that is emotionally experienced and ‘felt’.

Open Access (free)
Deaths at sea and unidentified bodies in Lesbos
Iosif Kovras and Simon Robins

This chapter examines the problem of how 'missing' migrants - in this case, migrants who died attempting to cross the Aegean Sea - constitute a novel (legal, political and moral) category. European securitization institutions refuse legal responsibility for such deaths; they lack administrative procedures for identifying and/or returning the bodies. Officially, the deaths at sea are pure 'accidents'; the Aegean thus becomes one of the EU's unacknowledged, largely non-territorialized, deadly borders. European securitization regimes are, however, indifferent to the dead bodies. They impose a biopolitical differentiation between dead and living: alive, migrants are a threat, a subject of surveillance without even the right to have rights (Agamben); dead, they are nothing. Locally, however, things are different. People on islands where migrants' bodies have washed ashore form subversive discourses: they give the dead both recognition and status. Locals bury the migrants who have gone out of time (so to speak), provide them with sites and memorials that give them place in both space and memory, and thus challenge the European border system by providing the migrants with retroactive, legitimate life.

in Migrating borders and moving times
Integrative concepts for a criminology of mass violence
Jon Shute

This chapter argues that the moral discourse and action surrounding the production and treatment of corpses is beneficial for an understanding of the long-term trajectory of societies affected by mass violence and to the formulation of a nascent criminology of atrocity and transitional justice. It describes important themes in what might be called 'moral arousal management theory': that body of interdisciplinary theory that attempts to understand the ways in which the moral-emotional 'work' of crime is performed and managed. The chapter then discusses the core methodological and ethical issues involved in establishing a criminology of the corpse and mass violence, and its place in the wider process of re-ascribing value to radically devalued human lives. It also describes something of the integrative potential of moral discourse in relation to the human remains of mass violence.

in Human remains and mass violence
Zaira Lofranco

This chapter on post-war Sarajevo concentrates on the imposition of the new ‘inter ethnic boundary line’ that divides ‘Serbian’ Sarajevo from the rest of the city. This imposition changed many neighbourhoods, as people were either forced to leave, or found themselves living with new, albeit ethnically ‘correct’ neighbours. These recent mono-ethnic neighbourhoods have drastically disrupted the everyday associations and relationships that make for local belonging. The supposed ties of shared ethnicity cannot overcome other barriers to sociability: different social-economic groups’ disparate ways of being sociable; the seemingly incommensurate practices of long-term city dwellers and recently immigrated country cousins. The result, Lofranco argues, has been a reformulation of neighourhood time-space.

in Migrating borders and moving times
Time and space in family migrant networks between Kosovo and western Europe
Carolin Leutloff-Grandits

The chapter analyses the shifting and layered temporalities within Kosovo-Albanians’ transnational family networks, illustrating both changing border regimes and divergent experiences and representations of border-crossing. The last three decades have entailed significant changes in Kosovo-Albanians’ past-future spatialities. Before 1989, many Kosovo-Albanians viewed migration to West Europe as temporary. After 1989, Kosovo’s ethnicised conflicts problematised the migrant’s ‘home-time’. Today, many migrants dismiss home-time as stagnant. They plan a future within the European Union for their children. Yet many also hope that their children will marry someone from home, in order to retain links with a static, idealised home, a time-space to which they themselves often hope to retire. Many villagers share at least part of this dream; they hope to flee stagnation and build a future abroad, a dream which, due to increasingly stringent entry regulations, is realised primarily through marriage migration. But marriage, in turn, is pre-eminently a village and family affair. Thus are the different time-space experiences of migrant and non-migrant re-synchronized through the strategies of transborder family networks. These times are brought into alignment, not least by the cyclical temporalities of family festivals (such as marriages) that draw migrants home.

in Migrating borders and moving times
Mass graves in post-war Malaysia
Frances Tay

The violence visited upon British Malaya during the Japanese Occupation of December 1941 to August 1945 has prompted several historians to evoke comparisons with the atrocities that befell Nanjing. For the duration of three years and eight months, unknown numbers of civilians were subjected to massacres, summary executions, rape, forced labour, arbitrary detention and torture.

This chapter explores several exhumations which have taken place in the territory to interrogate the significance of exhumations in shaping communal collective war memory, a subject which has thus far eluded scholarly study. It argues that these exhumations have not been exercises in recording or recovering historical facts; rather they have obfuscated the past by augmenting popular perceptions of Chinese victimhood and resistance, to the exclusion of all other ethnic groups’ war experiences. As a result, exhumations of mass graves in Malaysia have thus far served as poor examples of forensic investigation; rather these operations highlight how exhumations can emerge as battlegrounds in the contest between war memory and historiography.

in Human remains and identification
Open Access (free)
The French search mission for the corpses of deportees in Germany, 1946–58
Jean-Marc Dreyfus

This chapter illustrates the possibilities for the development of a history of social and political practices related to corpses en masse. It discusses the work of the French search mission in Germany, a body that was active from 1946 to 1958 and that was under the charge of the Ministry of War Veterans, Deportees and War Victims. Towards the end of 1947, the civil servants working for the search mission in Germany lost their military status. To illustrate the potential of research into the role of the body in and after situations of mass violence and genocide, the chapter addresses two specific aspects. First, the diplomatic dimension of the negotiations that led to the French search mission being given authorization to work on German soil. Second, the use of physical anthropology and forensics in identifying the bodies of French deportees buried in individual and mass graves.

in Human remains and mass violence
Embodying the disappeared of the Argentinian dictatorship through law
Sévane Garibian

The state policy of enforced disappearances in Argentina, planned and implemented during the military dictatorship of 1976-1983, still has a striking effect: in the absence of any corpses of the disappeared, the families seek the dead among the living. Their quest through the law embodies the victims who were 'disappeared' and thereby placed outside of the law. Argentina is an extraordinary laboratory in the domain of struggle against impunity and of 'restoration of the truth', and constitutes a useful paradigm in the context of reflection on the corpses of mass violence. At Argentina's initiative, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights adopted on 20 April 2005 the first resolution on the right to the truth. The state duty is precisely expressed in the truth hearings and the procedures for mandatory recovery of the identity of stolen children.

in Human remains and mass violence
Nataša Gregorič Bon

Chapter seven examines the material exchanges between migrant Greek women in Albania and their husbands back in Greece, focusing on the recalibration of everyday and long-term temporalities between the two settings. Wives remit money, food, furniture and other goods, which gives a concrete dimension to the couple’s relationship, dynamically materialising a migrant wife’s presence at home despite her physical absence. It also affects temporality. First, the rhythmic circulation of things sent and received complements electronic communication in creating a common, cross-border time-space between absent wives and at-home husbands. Second, the woman’s remittances are inalienable in the sense that they are simultaneously both investment and insurance. Managed by the husband, remittances underwrite house-building, which when completed provides tangible testimony both to his wife’s role as care-giver and to the couple’s anticipated future together. In both cases, however, the new, transnational time-space is shown to leave traditional female-male power relations intact. Seen in context of the migrant women’s life-cycle, the liminality of their sojourn abroad is underscored by their reincorporation into local patriarchal structures that, paradoxically, their remittances had helped to sustain.

in Migrating borders and moving times
Open Access (free)
Machines of mass incineration in fact, fiction, and forensics
Robert Jan van Pelt

In 1942 engineers of the German crematory oven builder Topf and Sons in Erfurt developed a design for an oven that could incinerate up to 7,000 corpses per day with a minimal use of fuel. This design was based on their experiences in Auschwitz. Was the design viable, and who would have been the likely customer? This chapter investigates the motivations behind such an architectural project and the intentions of the Nazis towards the bodies of those they sought to eradicate. It will explore the technologies used and sought, as well as the difficulties created by attempting to commit atrocities on such a large scale.

in Destruction and human remains