The Meaning(s) of Immigration at the Limits of European Civilization: Detention Centers and the Suspension of Law

Kostas Maronitis
2015 JOMEC Journal  
Keywords detention centers borders Greece European civilization unregulated immigration violence Published by Cardiff University Press @JOMECjournal Abstract This article examines the cultural and political meanings of detention centers for undocumented migrants in Greece. Through the consideration of the Dublin Regulation, which holds that asylum seekers' applications can be evaluated and adjudicated only in the country where they
more » ... country where they first enter, and the presence of Frontex at Greece's borders for an integrated border management, the article situates Greece's immigration detention centers within the wider context of state sovereignty and policies of admission and detention. Following the theoretical elaborations of Carl Schmitt (2013) and Wendy Brown (2010) on territorial division, the state of exception and waning sovereignty, in conjunction with reports from the Human Rights Watch and the Greek Council for Refugees, the article argues that immigration detention centers have three meanings for EU citizens and migrants. First, the building of detention centers for unregulated immigrants is an explicit attempt to assert the EU member-state as a 'total state' where it can discern between friend and enemy and rule by limiting or eliminating diverse forces that might develop in its interior. This rule does not, however, depend on the implementation of the law but on its suspension and consequently this suspension acquires a permanent status. Second, detention centers communicate anxieties regarding order in the interior of the state and fear and danger in the exterior. Detention centers demarcate where European notions of civilization end but they also highlight the point where the civilized subject can be legitimately violent and uncivilized. Third, detention centers not only prevent unregulated immigrants from entering the EU and the nation state but also produce their content. By safeguarding the national and European territories from the threats which unregulated immigration is thought to pose, detention centers help to produce a defensive national subject in fear of being contaminated by the arrival of anonymous, stateless people. Contributor Note Kostas Maronitis is a cultural sociologist with a focus on European politics and immigration and teaches Media at Leeds Trinity University. He has written articles on the European public sphere, the politics of fear, protest and communitarianism. Kostas Maronitis' current research is on utopian and dystopian imaginations of Europe through the prism of immigration flows, integration and exclusion. Citation Maronitis, Kostas (2015), 'The meaning(s) of immigration at the limits of European civilization', JOMEC Journal 7, 'The Meaning of Migration', ed. Kerry Moore. DOI: http://dx.
doi:10.18573/j.2015.10004 fatcat:tltm5ro57bgqtc5gg77ky6b3la