1st  seminar of the 4th Cycle of ETHNOGRAFEIN Online Educational Seminars (2023-2024)

Critical dialogues, epistemological challenges, 
field experiences, creative texts

“Borders and boundaries revisited: 
Anthropological perspectives and public engagement”

Performance oikade (Aleksandros Plomaritis
[provided by Dr. Christina Grammatikopoulou]

The online seminars series ETHNOGRAFEIN, since its inception in the spring of 2021, aims to contribute to a critical and interdisciplinary discussion about the theory and practice of ethnography, the epistemology of research, the significance of embodied experience, and also the modes of dissemination of the anthropological knowledge produced to both academic and non-academic audiences. The anthropological endeavour, both as a mode of research practice and a form of political writing, is based on the fundamental epistemological premises of critical evaluation, empathy, reflection, and self-referentiality and highlights the significance of a multifaceted analysis for the understanding of the local to the global. 

Organisation and coordination: Fotini Tsibiridou – Ioannis Manos – Eleni Sideri

“Borders and boundaries revisited: 
Anthropological perspectives and public engagement”

The 4th period of the ETHNOGRAFEIN online seminars, starting in October 2023 with the title “Borders and boundaries revisited: Anthropological perspectives and public engagement“, sets the study of geopolitical borders as its point of departure to examine the diverse phenomena and processes that abound in the contemporary state border regions and have multilevel consequences for the border populations. 
By definition, studying borders and boundaries involves exploring the relationship between the ‘inside’ and the ‘outside’, or the “Self” and the “Other”. However, this is not a study of clear-cut dichotomies but an analysis of the interplay of multiple, multilevel, coexisting, but not necessarily interconnected processes. Boundaries are configured and take shape within a historically determined frame. They are subject to transformations in socio-political and economic contexts and are characterised by institutionally organised asymmetrical power relations. The complex making of borders and boundaries often emerges as a continuous interaction between mobility and enclosure, communication, coexistence, exchange, interaction, sameness and otherness, separation, exclusion, segmentation, connection and disconnection.
The anthropological study of geopolitical borders and their populations by anthropology was systematised in the mid-1990s. It was initially based on two paradigms: the study of the USA-Mexico and European borders. Nowadays, analysing social phenomena and cultural processes concerning borders and boundaries transcends disciplinary boundaries. Novel approaches such as the crοsslocations framework and the current discussion on decolonising methods and epistemologies have expanded the analytical and conceptual significance of the concepts of border and boundary. New methodological and interpretative tools have been created to study politics, trans-border mobility, materiality, transnationalism, topologies and genealogies of migration and refugeeness, border economics, and nation-state policies concerning spatial and cultural diversity, minority rights, and performative culture. 
Based on detailed explorations of ethnographic research and anthropological insights, the 4th cycle of the ETHNOGRAFEIN online seminars critically examines the theoretical, epistemological and methodological complexities surrounding the study of geopolitical borders and their imposed dichotomies. Moreover, it discusses anthropology’s potential to bring forth the subtleties of human voices often overshadowed by macro narratives and create an inclusive, comprehensive dialogue in the public sphere that demonstrates the multiplicity of lived experiences.

30 October 2023

The Spirit of the Convention and the Letter of the Colony: Refugees defining States in a British Overseas Territory” 

Olga Dimitriou  

Professor in Political Anthropology, Durham Global Security Institute,  
School of Government and International Affairs, UK


Olga Dimitriou: The Spirit of the Convention and the Letter of the Colony: Refugees defining States in a British Overseas Territory
Whereas asylum policy is predicated on the assumption that states define refugees, this paper examines how refugees define states. Through the legal case of refugees stranded on a British military base in Cyprus since 1998, I show how refugees and the states that grant them or deny them protection become co-constitutive. The processes involved in judicial activism delineate the modalities through which sovereign governance and refugee agency operate. I argue that modalities of sovereignty (colonialism, exceptionalism, and diplomacy) interact with modalities of agency (protest, vulnerability, and endurance) to redefine issues of refugee protection, state sovereignty, and externalisation of migration management. The case shows the risks that denial of protection entails for states and not just refugees. Methodologically, I propose that a nuanced, ground-level understanding of the role of law in activism allows us a clearer view to these imbrications of sovereign governance and agency, and thus to the ambivalent and multivalent aspects of activism.           

Olga Demetriou joined the Durham Global Security Institute at the School in 2018 and has been its Programme Director since 2019. She has trained in social anthropology and has led projects on minority rights, gender, displacement, and refugeehood, for the last two decades.Her current interests focus on activism in refugee reception sites in the Mediterranean, specifically in Spain, Italy, Greece and Cyprus. 
She has authored two monographs, Capricious Borders: Minority, Population and Counter-Conduct between Greece and Turkey (Berghahn, 2013/2017) and Refugeehood and the Post Conflict Subject: Reconsidering Minor Losses (SUNY Press, 2018). She was previously affiliated with PRIO, the University of Cyprus, and Amnesty International, where she was the organisation’s researcher on Greece and Cyprus.

Attendance certificates will be given to participants who register in the form below
Google form: https://forms.gle/69hMA5zH6Ji6nGtF7

The registration form will receive answers one week before the seminar.

 The seminars are held on Mondays from 16:00-18:00


Seminar Platform: ZOOM

Link  https://zoom.us/j/8364531775?pwd=OVg3YVZlbmVCYWs3S0JYcEFGYlV1QT09
Meeting ID: 836 453 1775     Passcode: KB2JKa