Day One

Central Mediterranean Context (Maria Pisani, Violeta Moreno-Lax, Hagen Kopp, Adnan Hadzi)

The way we collectively discuss about migration, in general, and forced displacement by sea, or “boat migration”, in particular, has an impact on our responses to address the phenomenon. Narratives on “boat migration”, be it in the media or in public discourse, affect political processes across Europe, influencing our perception of “boat migrants”, ultimately having an effect on the ways they are received in (or repelled from) our societies. The challenge is to unpack and explain the causes and consequences of such narratives, examining their construction and assessing their effects on prevailing attitudes.

Sea Watch and Alarm Phone have already been working in a state of permanent crisis for 5 years now, fighting the EU’S policies of letting die at the deadliest European border, the Mediterranean. It is an avoidable and deadly crisis. Now the biggest difference is that our environment is also in one. Staying at home, in those Covid-19 times, is a privilege that the people we pull out of the water do not have. We must not and will not forget the people who are fighting for their survival on the doorstep of Fortress Europe. Flight is not a choice.

Case Study: Integra by Maria Pisani

Integra Foundation’s  vision is that of supporting inclusive, non-discriminating and non-disabling societies, where all individuals have the right to human dignity, freedom, respect and social justice. Our mission is that of facilitating the space for marginalised individuals and groups to be listened to and to have an active and meaningful say in their lives and well-being on their own terms. The objectives of the Foundation are as follows:
a. working towards a successfully integrated society that recognises and embraces strength in diversity;
b. providing support to marginalised groups through tangible inclusive community development projects;
c. engaging minority groups in order to maximise their potential as full members of Maltese society;
d. facilitating access of minority groups to essential community services in Malta
e. lobbying for the integration of minority groups into Maltese society;
f. raising awareness on issues relating to minority/marginalized groups by providing accurate, timely and objective information;
g. Actively opposing racism, xenophobia and cultural intolerance as well as any other form of discrimination in Malta;
h. partnering with other relevant national and/or international organizations in order to maximise synergies in operations and to disseminate knowledge in regard to pertinent issues.

Case Study: Sarobmed by Violeta Moreno-Lax

As long as there is no option of safe passage to Europe, people will continue risking their lives,forced to take what is now the host of some of the the world’s most dangerous migration routes, the Mediterranean Sea [Fargues Philippe, “Four Decades of Cross-Mediterranean Undocumented Migration to Europe” (International Organization for Migration, 2017).]. Setting off in flimsy rubber boats, many soon find themselves heading for rocks or sand banks that can readily capsize or sink a dinghy. Others are abandoned by smugglers who drop them at beaches that are inaccessible via land. The majority of people are wearing fakelife jackets, giving them a false sense of safety [Hannah Al-Othman, “Tricked into death: 150,000 migrants’ life jackets – many of which are useless fakes- lie piled on the coast of Lesbos in a grim memorial to those who die crossing the Mediterranean” (The Daily Mail, 2017)].Despite the need of proactive Search and Rescue Operations (SAR), aiming to deter migrants fromcrossing the Mediterranean, the EU and its member states pulled back from rescue at sea at the endof 2014, leading to record numbers of deaths. Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) were forcedto deploy their own rescue missions in a desperate attempt to fill this gap and reduce casualties.However, SAR NGOs are currently operating in an increasingly hostile environment, both at seaand on land, facing smear campaigns and legal actions from EU member states

[Melanie Fink, “The Aquarius incident: navigating the turbulent waters of international law” (Ejil:Talk!, June 14, 2018) & Cusumano, Eugenio. ‘Straightjacketing Migrant Rescuers? the Code of Conduct on Maritime NGOs’, Mediterranean Politics, (2017), pp. 1-9.], and parts of the media [“The German NGO ship Lifeline – people smugglers or life savers?”, (The Local, 28 June 2018) & “NGOs are smuggling immigrants into Europe on an industrial scale” (Gefira, 04 december 2016)].

Moreover, governments have tended to adopt an approach of secrecy when it comes to incidents at sea; without precise details about the actions taken (or not taken), it is difficult to hold governments accountable for failing to uphold their SAR and human rights obligations.These state prosecutions, which are often supported by part of the population too, come at a heavy price: each ship that is stopped from rescuing migrants in the Mediterranean results in either the loss of migrants at sea or the detainment of migrants by the Libyan Coast Guard and transport to Tripoli,where violation of human rights are committed on a daily basis. As reported in the ‘MareClausum’ paper

[Mare Clausum, a report by Forensic Oceanography (Charles Heller and Lorenzo Pezzani), affiliated to the Forensic Architecture agency, Goldsmiths, University of London, 2018],

it has been four years since more than 1,200 people perished at sea in the 12 and18 April 2015 shipwrecks – the largest to have been documented in recent Mediterranean history.These deaths were the result of the termination of the Italian Mare Nostrum operation, which had patrolled close to the Libyan coast to rescue migrants in distress. The end of Mare Nostrum left a gap in Search and Rescue (SAR) capabilities that was meant to deter migrants and instead led to a staggering increase in deaths at sea in early 2015. In the wake of this harrowing loss of life, even the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, was obliged to admit that “it was a serious mistake to bring the Mare Nostrum operation to an end. It costs human lives”.

Possible film screenings:
– Forensic Oceanography & Sea Watch
– Aquarius (MSF)
– Juventa (Jugend Retted)

Media & Migration: Key issues in Critical Migration Studies (Joshua Neves, Masha Salazkina, Krista Lynes, Ishita Tiwary)

In 2014, a collective of scholars, artists and activists initiated a collaborative writing project aimed at developing a nexus of key terms and concepts to fill-out the contemporary problematic of migration (“New Keywords: Migration and Borders,” subsequently published in the journal Cultural Studies). This project focused on what they perceived as significant “binding” words that shape how we come to understand migration and borders in the contemporary conjuncture, and worked to frame the keywords chosen as indispensable conceptual categories for cultural studies today.

The Media Stream of this Summer School takes this text as a point of departure for developing strategies to interrogate the link between mediation and of migration, both in our times and historically. It proposes then to begin generating together “key terms and concepts” that define the mediation of migration and/or the migration of media in a way that could be productive for making critical interventions from a wide range of disciplinary perspectives and approaches. Participants of the stream will be asked to come up with terms, which resonate with their interests in the area of migration studies while also engaging with issues of media/mediation, to be shared on Day 2.

Following an introduction of this on Day 1, participants will be invited to think about the work of developing and interrogating key terms through two key terms that were the intellectual engine for the edited anthology Moving Images: Mediating Migration as Crisis: “moving images” and “crisis”, which will be briefly discussed on Day 2.

The longer workshop on Day 2 invites participants to come prepared with a “key term” of interest to them (one that indicates in some manner the entanglement of mediation and migration), as well as an example (this could be an image, a story, an anecdote, an event, etc.) that helps elucidate their chosen term. Participants in the workshop on Day 2 will be invited to share their key term and explain their interest in it among workshop participants as a way to begin the dialogue which we hope will continue beyond this 2-day event.

Governance: Documents & Monuments (Jamie Allen, Armina Pilav, Michaela Büsse)

“There is no document of civilization which is not at the same time a document of barbarism.” —Walter Benjamin 

The island nation of Matla, as any statutorily political and physically real place, exists in the relations and transformations of documents and monuments. It is a reality of written inscriptions and physical places, in resonance. National and physical infrastructures require traceable regulations, policies, agreements and decisions—reams of documents that originate, validate and catalogue terrains, construction and operation. Policy, agreements, letters of agreement and legislation serve to instantiate and defend physical cultural sovereignties and borderlands, these also becoming historical monuments changes wrought to lands and peoples. Legal and governmental procedures and decrees, abstracted and composed at distance from their sites of application, materially change how and where material goods human and non-human bodies are able to move.

Islands are bodies in the making, worlds of flows, connections and liquidities. The Maltese archipelago is geopolitical and geophysical infrastructure, a place where security, value and identity are wrought through transport, transfer and movement. The documents and monuments that regulate this process are the subject of this workshop, noting that it is amongst the central tenets of capital flow in our contemporary age that materials — raw, commodity, consumable — are much more “free” than are people. If we characterise freedom in part through the ability to move around, it is apparent that “free trade” means it is easier for a Walmart T-shirt sewn in Asia to move across borders than it is for the human labourers who made it to do the same. This is all explicitly enabled by real infrastructures like the Belt and Road Initiative, a global development philosophy and infrastructure project being undertaken by the Chinese government, which involves development investments in 152 countries.

The relation of documents and monuments that allows for migrations of materials and peoples will be explored in this workshop. We will trace the migratory effects of specific documents (historical and contemporary policies, agreements, contracts, and laybills) on linked sites, industrial and infrastructural objects and installations, regions and landscapes) as resulting in and stemming from monuments (specific sites, industrial and infrastructural objects and installations, regions and landscapes). Maltese archipelago, and its relation to globalising initiatives like the Belt and Road, will attempt a bureaucratic forensics using data, field visits, and investigative tracing, visualization and storytelling.

Initial Resources:
(MAP) MALTA Documents & Monuments
(DOSSIERS) MALTA Documents & Monuments

Summer School Open Syllabus by Pirate.Care (Marcell Mars, Tomislav Medak)

Pirate Care: Collaborative Online Syllabus: “Pirate Care primarily considers the assumption that we live in a time inwhich care, understood as a political and collective capacity of society,is becoming increasingly defunded, discouraged and criminalised.”
This Introduction gives an overview of the main questions and concerns voiced by the expression ‘pirate care’, which also the gathering principle for bringing together the different knowledges, techniques and tools shared in this collective syllabus.Pirate Care primarily considers the assumption that we live in a time in which care, understood as a political and collective capacity of society, is becoming increasingly defunded, discouraged and criminalised. Neoliberal policies have for the last two decades re-organised the basic care provisions that were previously considered cornerstones of democratic life – healthcare, housing, access to knowledge, right to asylum, freedom of mobility, social benefits, etc. – turning them into tools for surveilling, excluding and punishing the most vulnerable. The name Pirate Care refers to those initiatives that have emerged in opposition to such political climate by self-organising technologically-enabled care & solidarity networks.

X-Sprint and Open Climate Knowledge (Simon Worthington – Open Science Lab, German National Library of Science and Technology)

A practical workshop using two digital toolsets to make experimental sprint driven publications on topics that combine ecology and migrations. The workshop will involve making a publication in a day on a topic set by the group participating. Participants will learn about: visual prototyping; research PID usage; and data mining.
Research colleagues working on X-Sprints and Open Climate Knowledge are Dr Ina Blumel of TIB and advisory board Europeana, as well as Peter Murray-Rust, Chemist and Open Access pioneer.
The first toolset is termed ‘X-Sprints’. The ‘X’ refers to ways to record and capture heterogeneous social media types used in art, design and architecture such as: Sketchfab; Instagram; TikTok; Twitter, etc. The ‘Sprint’ part refers to working collaborative in real-time, together, or online, while being directed at the goal of producing as publication. An accessible FOSS workflow would be used for the sprints: WordPress using Gutenberg Blocks, DIVI Themes and Shifter static site generation and GitHub versionsing.
The second toolset is ‘Open Climate Knowledge’ and data mining of research papers. See Open Climate Knowledge (OCK) is an open research project for data mining Open Access (OA) papers related to Climate Change — to build stats on OA rates, and for researchers to use in their work. OCK is intended for researchers inside and outside of academe.Using OCK participants can search global open research databases easily to retrieve papers and make collections for sharing.The research questions are:Social Media – how to capture this ephemeral media and make it citable as part of design practice.Community science (AKA citizen science) (Reed Petty 2017) – how to make participatory workflows for the public at large. Collaborative working processes have been established for the researcher workflow but not for the public to participate in scholarship. Specifically the interest is to see how ContentMine FOSS software used in Open Climate Knowledge can be made usable in citizen science contexts.ReferencesReed Petty, Kate. ‘Is It Time to Retire the Word “Citizen”?’ BLARB (blog), 2017.

Climate is interconnected with almost every other discipline. Physics, maths , chemistry, bioscience, medicine, psychology , economics, sociology,law, philosophy. Simon Worthington, (TiB, Hanover) and I have created OpenClimate Knowledge (OCK) and we believe that many “solutions” will come from multidisciplinary. In COVID-19 we see that social aspects(distancing, BAME, demographics, politics…) are critically important to finding ways forward, the same is true for climate.Inspired by Wikipedia/Wikidata, OCK creates dictionaries for such disciplines, allowing scholarly articles to be classified and interrogated by AMI, a machine amanuensis for human readers and analysts). This presentation shows how we tackle a new subject within a few hours (a”scoping review”). I shall take “Climate and Human migration” and show the types of article that are published and hope to highlight disciplines.Among the existing dictionaries we shall use are country, disease, funders,and we’ll create one for migration.

Day Two

Righting victim participation in transitional justice (Tine Destrooper)

How do societies seek to come to terms with legacies of large-scale abuses in order to ensure accountability, serve justice and achieve reconciliation? And what role can victims play in this process? These are crucial questions for scholars and practitioners of transitional justice (TJ). Approaches to TJ are varied. Yet generally four pillars are emphasised: (criminal)justice, truth-seeking, reparations, and guarantees of non-recurrence. TJ practitioners and scholars alike have increasingly been turning to victim-centric,participatory approaches to increase the legitimacy and “efficacy” of TJ processes. By giving victims centre stage, stakeholders hope to better address victims’ needs,enhance local ownership and transform victims into agents of change who can carry forth processes of justice seeking after international actors leave.But what do we really know about how to best organize this victim participation, or what its long-term effects are?

This project studies the long-term and unforeseen effects of victim participation in transitional justice processes. It takes the cases of Tunisia, Guatemala, the DRC and Cambodia to map current and best practices, and to make recommendations for more victim-sensitive approaches to transitional justice.
Principal Investigator: Prof. Dr. Tine Destrooper
Researchers: Safa Belghith, Christian Cirhigiri, Elke Evrard, Brigitte Herremans (see also proposal of Brigitte related to arts/literature and displaced people), Gretel Mejía, Sangeetha Yogendran

Countering erasure (Brigitte Herremans)

Countering erasure: can the arts contribute to restoring justice in Syria?’ This project explores how artistic expressions can help to restore justice in situations of unabated violence where transitional justice (TJ) initiatives are being implemented. The main question is to what extent artistic practices, and literature in particular, can contribute to TJ efforts and counter the narrative silencing of victims.Syria is taken as a case study to examine this question. As the Syrian conflict is ongoing, there is no fully-fledged formal TJ process. Nevertheless, Syrian local activists and international actors are testing certain elements of the TJ toolkit on the ground, such as the documentation of violations of international law and criminal justice.Brigitte will tentatively argue that there is scope to strengthen the current TJ efforts in Syria. The implementation of TJ initiatives might need to be reconsidered in order to guarantee victims’ right to truth and justice, and better assimilate their voices in justice processes. One approach for doing so, is by looking at the ways in which artistic practices can play a role in the development of complementary and innovative avenues toward justice for Syrians beyond trials. She foregrounds artistic practices based on the hypothesis that they can help to rethink some of the existing TJ architecture by understanding and utilizing the evidence differently, including through truth-seeking initiatives, feeding the transitional imagination in ways that are more representative of the experiences of victims, in order to avoid erasure.

Privatised Push-Back of the Nivin (Charles Heller)

This report is an investigation into the Nivin case and new pattern of privatised push-back practice.
In November 2018, five months after Matteo Salvini was made Italy’s Interior Minister, and began to close the country’s ports to rescued migrants, a group of 93 migrants was forcefully returned to Libya after they were ‘rescued’ by the Nivin, a merchant ship flying the Panamanian flag, in violation of their rights, and in breach of international refugee law.
The migrants’ boat was first sighted in the Libyan Search and Rescue (SAR) Zone by a Spanish surveillance aircraft, part of Operation EUNAVFOR MED – Sophia, the EU’s anti-smuggling mission. The EUNAVFOR MED – Sophia Command passed information to the Italian and Libyan Coast Guards to facilitate the interception and ‘pull-back’ of the vessel to Libya. However, as the Libyan Coast Guard (LYCG) patrol vessels were unable to perform this task, the Italian Coast Guard (ICG) directly contacted the nearby Nivin ‘on behalf of the Libyan Coast Guard’, and tasked it with rescue.
LYCG later assumed coordination of the operation, communicating from an Italian Navy ship moored in Tripoli, and, after the Nivin performed the rescue, directed it towards Libya.
While the passengers were initially told they would be brought to Italy, when they realised they were being returned to Libya, they locked themselves in the hold of the ship.A standoff ensured in the port of Misrata which lasted ten days, until the captured passengers were violently removed from the vessel by Libyan security forces, detained, and subjected to multiple forms of ill-treatment, including torture.This case exemplifies a recurrent practice that we refer to as ‘privatised push-back’.
This new strategy has been implemented by Italy, in collaboration with the LYCG, since mid-2018, as a new modality of delegated rescue, intended to enforce border control and contain the movement of migrants from the Global South seeking to reach Europe.

Digitalisation of Labour and Migration (Manuela Bojadžijev)

Digital technologies are transforming the world of work and have far-reaching consequences for mobility and migration. This project studies the reorganisation of labour through digital platforms, and it looks at how digital conditions are also simultaneously changing the forms, practices and our conceptions of labour migration.

Spheres: Journal for Digital Cultures, an open access and peer-reviewed web (Clemens Apprich)

We are witnessing an acceleration of the deployment of digital technologies in border regimes as well as in migratory practices. This does not necessarily make borders ‘smarter’, but it points to spiraling dynamics between border and migration practices to which digital technologies prove central. Technologies deployed by European countries to manage the so-called ‘refugee crisis’ – from fences to the Eurosur drone system – have their reverse side. While digital networks facilitate surveillance systems, they also foster mobility and challenge border regimes at the same time. Persisting migration in defiance of ever more sophisticated border technologies demonstrate the possible detour of control systems. In our fourth issue of spheres, we investigate the significance of digital technologies for migration and the relation between migratory regimes and practices on the one hand, and digital cultures and infrastructures on the other.As an online journal, spheres operates on the premise that already published issues are kept open for new content. Hence, the goal of the workshop is to discuss and develop ideas for further contributions.

Summer School 2020/2021 proceedings
GEMlab-Seminar on Media Ecologies


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