Missing migrants
Deaths at sea and unidentified bodies in Lesbos
in Migrating borders and moving times

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.

Migrating borders and moving times

Temporality and the crossing of borders in Europe


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