On Islands and Camps: From Leros to Lesvos

A roundtable discussion

10 December 2020, 17:00 (UK time)

Facing what many have called a 'crisis within a crisis', the islands of the eastern Aegean saw the arrival, and eventually the confinement, of thousands of refugees on their soil since 2015. Five years on, emergency hotspots accommodating refugees in many of those islands have developed into fully-fledged permanent settlements, today entangled in yet another crisis – that of covid-19. And while the term crisis alerts us to an unprecedented urgency, it also demands that we reconsider how much the Greek islands sit on long and complicated histories of migration, asylum and confinement. By setting the spot-light on two of these islands – Leros and Lesvos – we want to address the following questions: Can the Greek islands be viewed as biopolitical spaces of confinement and what can their past tell us about the present? How do the grammars of confinement intersect with the grammars of biopolitics at the local, national and transnational levels? How does this thick context relate to the phantasmatic construction of the island archipelago in the Greek and global cultural imaginary?


Neni Panourgia (Columbia University) "Infrastructural governmentalities, or confinement by any other name. The paradigm of Leros"
Danae Karydaki (University of Thessaly) "Towards a 'Greek Neverland': the infantilisation of Leros institutions' inmates with intellectual disability (1958-95)"
Pafsanias Karathanasis (University of the Aegean) "From the 'hotspot' to the 'camp-city': Moria RIC in Lesvos and the end of the EU 'hotspot approach' (Sept. 2020)"

Chaired by Kristina Gedgaudaitė (Princeton University)