Summary of the roundtable, "Intersections of crisis: Conflict, gender and migration in Europe’s periphery".

Wednesday 16.12.15 at the Home for Cooperation, Nicosia.


17 December 2015


​​​​The aim for this roundtable was to offer ideas and discuss the complex intersections between crisis, gender, migration, and conflict​.​​ and also to elaborate on marginalization in times of crisis.

In the panel, Alexandra Zavos (Panteion University Athens) presented her reflections on the "refugee crisis" in Greece. What is interesting in naming the crisis a "refugee crisis" rather than a "crisis of the European migration regime" or a "human rights crisis", is that it reflects the priorities of European policymakers, she suggested. The policy tools developed over consecutive Summits in recent months are indicative of these priorities. These tools are bound to prove ineffective because the "turbulence" they target is not limited to migrants – it is a turbulence of the entire European border architecture and its institutions.

 Teresa Sorde Marti (Autonomous University of Barcelona) spoke to the question of what the crisis is doing to people already marginalized and the situation of Roma women in Spain. Sorde Marti pointed to the positive impact that NGOs (e.g. learning communities) can have on the integration and transformation of under-privileged parts of the Spanish society. The lessons drawn from here could well provide pause for thought about policy responses that prioritize rights over movement controls.

 Liza Schuster (City University London) closed the panel with an overview of European macro-level policy responses to the current crisis. The shift post-2014 in EU policy from rescue operations (Nostra Mare) to deterrence (Triton, Poseidon) is once more indicative of the framing of the problem as one of borders rather than survival. The 2015 deaths are an effect of this shift and not hapless accidents, Schuster stressed. Schuster also drew comparisons between current policies and crisis responses after the Yugoslav wars. Similar to then, the crises in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan are being answered with solutions that push the problem outwards, e.g. creating centres outside the EU or supporting non-EU countries like Turkey. Schuster also drew attention to the responses of Lebanon and Jordan hosting a million refugees each.

​A concern running through the presentations and dominating the discussion was the disconnection between needs and responses, and the connection between the language in which a 'problem' is constructed as such and the solutions to it. These two relations seem to sit at the crux of what 'crisis' means today and how it is reproduced. While sobering thoughts, the panel and following discussion also gave pause to think about the possibilities, like local initiatives that might spring up in the midst of humanitarian failure and which might begin to provide solutions. The role of the state, participants agreed must be rethought on these terms. 

On behalf of the organizers, we would like to thank all participants, in particular the guest speakers, for this insightful and interesting conference.

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