Sappers of Fortress Europe: exploring the micropolitics of borders through the occupational culture of asylum caseworkers in Greece

Ioannidis, Panagiotis; Dimou, Eleni and Dadusc, Deanna (2021). Sappers of Fortress Europe: exploring the micropolitics of borders through the occupational culture of asylum caseworkers in Greece. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies (Early Access).

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/1369183x.2021.1873114

Abstract

This paper considers borders as ubiquitous and pervasive social relations and as sites of struggles, which are shaped through and transformed by social antagonisms and contestations. While much discussion of border struggles focuses on migrants’ resistance and various forms of activism, this paper provides insights on the micro-resistance of those who, instead of overtly opposing and contesting the biopolitical power of border regimes, are integral to their operation: asylum caseworkers who filter and select border-crossers. The paper presents data from interviews with self-identified leftist asylum caseworkers in Greece who, through their work, seek to create cracks in the so-called ‘Fortress Europe’. By exploring the somewhat unexplored occupational culture of leftist asylum caseworkers, we show how, while trying to resist bordering regimes, leftist asylum caseworkers both critique and reproduce the power relations they seek to subvert. Essentially, we provide valuable insights on the limits of resistance due to the workings of powerful technologies of government – informed by neoliberal managerialism – that are operational in day-to-day life of the asylum process. The paper thus provides a novel exploration of the complex and entangled relation between technologies of power and micro-resistances within border regimes in the significant context of Greece.

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