Monday, 27 February 2017

Migrant protest in times of crisis: politics, ethics and the sacred from below

an article by Özgün E. Topak (York University, Toronto, Canada) published in Citizenship Studies Volume 21 Issue 1 (January 2017)


This paper focuses on the 300 Migrant Hunger Strikers event in Greece to explore the material conditions of possibility for migrant politics in times of crisis. It identifies three elements that played determinant roles in the articulation of the event: the politics of equality enacted by migrants, the ethics of hospitality and witnessing enacted by the Greek activists and host populations and the sacredness of the event.

Critically engaging with the theories of Rancière, Derrida, Agamben and Durkheim, this paper demonstrates how these elements encountered and how their encounter helped migrants to achieve rights, albeit limited and temporary.

Moving beyond the particularity of the event, this paper also highlights the event’s importance for migrant politics in times of austerity, and increased surveillance and racism against migrants. Despite its limited and temporary success, the event demonstrates how a politics of equality, ethical openness and respect for human life can form the basis of true cosmopolitan universality.

The event also demonstrates how cosmopolitan universality is constructed from below by the migrants, who despite their undocumented status, engaged in an act of citizenship to demand equality.

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