Work details
Application Number 0000801715
Author Papadimitrakopoulos, Konstantinos , Greece
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Work title: Border Archipelagos of the narrow passages (0000801715)

Border Archipelagos of the narrow passages The European union political border extends beyond the main land continent, to a group of small and medium sized islands that the Mediterranean EU countries include as part of their national borders. These islands are the gateways to the EU, making them global hotspots and are for the most part (with the exception of the Canary Islands) situated geographically at the geographically narrow passages, as Braudel mentions, of the Mediterranean. These islands: Malta, the Italian Lampedusa, Panteleria, the Greek Samos, Agathonisi, Chios, and the Spanish Canary Islands and enclave cities of Ceuta Melilla (which can be perceived as islands themselves) create a border archipelago. These geographically small pieces of land have politically and symbolically three superimposed layers of borders with different porosities. The local border: very porous, traditionally not acknowledged by the local population. E.g. the fishermen of Lampedusa take their fishing boats for repair to Tunisia for the winter The national border: less porous, and emblematic of the 20 century colonialism and national border formation and fortification E.g. Melilla is where Franco distinguished himself as a young lieutenant and is the only remaining Spanish city that has its statue. The international border: not porous, representative of E.U. borders and technologically advanced with ephemeral borders that are controlled by radars, satellites and FRONTEX, which most immigrants try to pass through. E.g. Lampedusa has received 20000 immigrants from North Africa in the past months due to the revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya. The "before diagrams" map, focus on understanding the physical, social and cultural similarities as well as the differences amongst two pairs of coastal transit cities, geographically situated opposite from one and other. Although coastal transit cities are not final destinations, they play a prominent geopolitical role as thresholds in clandestine migration routes as cities on each side of the European political border. The focus is on the specific cities and towns that immigrants use as passages and not on the migration routes themselves. To identify how the physical characteristics of the threshold, (sea, land, fence) define different types of passage and different kinds of urban conditions. Furthermore, the "before diagrams" map which are the shared conditions that define these Mediterranean border transit cities as a type that can be found along other political borders, for instance, between Mexico and the USA. This kind of frequent arrival of large numbers of people has a direct impact on the everyday life of the citizens of these cities both economically and socially. Overtime these dynamics play a prominent and instrumental role in transforming the urban morphology and surrounding landscape producing politically charged spaces in a level of scales from local to regional. The “after diagram” is a map of the Narrow Passage Border Archipelago. Although these islands have been, due to the geographical position, the most preferable passage ways in the global migration flows, they do not have the space to symbolically and politically be the gates of the E.U. Moreover, in the everyday life economy and culture their local character is much more prominent than their assigned international EU role. What this diagram proposes, is how the network of these islands can work as an Archipelago, which is autonomous from their political entity of EU and more as free trade zones (e.g. Melilla) bind from the similarity of their geographical proximity on the other side of the Mediterranean, and their scale. By doing so, the international political border of the EU is shifted to the continental mainland allowing the border to be defined spatially by the vastness of the sea and not the porosity and proximity of the their immediate local border. The proposal attempts to redefine these localities, not as island scale detention centres, pawns of the EU policies, but as a network of islands that their specific geo-history binds them as a borderline belonging neither to the north nor to the south but in the sea where they always belonged.