Co-organised with my colleague Yorgos Mattes as part of our research project, Police Science in Digital Environments, funded by Greece’s Research Centre for the Humanities in 2016. Our other research collective, Transcapes, will also partake in the conference, which will take place at Athens University’s Department of Philosophy and History of Science (Lecture B at UoA’s Zografou Campus) on December 7, 2016 from 5 to 9pm. Programme follows (in Greek).
“Trump is the logical culmination of a culture: the narrator of a democratic apparatus that has come to conceal itself behind the mother of all TV shows: the US Presidency.”
Yesterday, as I began to write these lines, Air Force One was descending on Athens’ airport, bringing the US President to our city: not the delirious orange-haired one, but the One Still There Even Though Most Of US Have Forgotten He Is Actually Still In Charge. Obama, the liberal darling of so many inside and beyond the US border, is the president under whose watch 2.5 million people were deported – more than any other US president in history and directly comparable to the “2-3 million” pledged by Trump.
Under Obama, the US has continued and excelled in its business-as-usual war, carnage and destruction the world over. But admittedly, under his watch this hell was now delivered with some impeccable puns, flawless speeches, making us feel warm inside and a sense of humility we can all relate to. Right?
A superstar, a great showman of a President? Check. But Trump is also those exact same things – perhaps in many ways more skilful than the Great Man himself: Trump read into the anguish of millions and tapped into it before the liberal elite had time to utter “let us respect and uphold the values of the US constitution”, or some gibberish of that kind.
Trump is the logical culmination of a culture that commenced with Obama: a complete and utter reliance upon the single showman (and yes, it will be a man) as the narrator of a democratic apparatus that has come to conceal itself behind the mother of all TV shows: the US Presidency. Continue Reading…
via Verso Books
There was a time when the world felt like an ocean of normality, bar your occasional pocket of carnage and destruction: I am talking way, way back in early 2016. Up until that time the Greek territory was hailed or vilified (depending on how you would see it) as one of these unruly exceptions, an impressive outlier that would grip so many to the point of coming to experience it first-hand. Upon descending in Athens, these far-flung visitors would invariably comment on how eerily peaceful it all was: cars were still driving up and down streets strikingly devoid of any enormous craters spitting out lava or fire. Despite the crisis, people were still walking around peacefully, not running nor screaming in agony. The fact that the signature Athenian cafés and bars were still in their place would become the object of scorn, something of a proof that the crisis was not much more than a bloated exaggeration on the side of us unruly Southerners who had it too good to let things change now.
Roads, pavements and street lamps (minus the odd defunct one, it must be told) were also still there: an impressive feat for those who had been caught in the swarm of the apocalyptic-talk, seemingly believing an austerity package (or three) ought to create, right there and then, an enormous rupture in the ground that would instantly swarm the screaming thousands, syphon them in and spit them out into a new urban streetscape of endlessly burning cars, knocked-down buildings, vacant lots and the smell of sulphur only just overshadowing the roar coming from the tilting ground as the next legal package was being voted in parliament: you get the picture. Continue Reading…
via society and space. Part of the forum “Governing mobility through European Hotspot Centres.”
On a quiet spring morning on the promenade of the port of Mytilene, on the Greek island of Lesbos, a strange sight caught our attention: flying high on a mast just inside the port gates were two peculiarly selected flags, the French and the Finnish. Perhaps something of a random choice, maybe even a computer error picking up the two EU member-states starting with an “F”, we joked at that time. But a few hours later, during our meeting with the European Commission’s representative on the island as part of our research on the migration crisis, the record was put painstakingly straight: far from a mistake, this was a strategic choice ahead of the visits of the French and the Finnish ambassadors to Greece to the island that week.
The Office of the Commission stationed in Mytilene was tasked with presenting these two state representatives with a pristine image of the hotspot on the island: the image of some seemingly unhindered and seamless operation of the hotspot, along with all of its ancillary mechanisms. Like salespeople charged with selling a future car model, or real estate agents promoting an apartment through a brochure while construction is still taking place, the Mytilene-stationed officials have been commissioned with convincing EU member-state representatives of the efficiency of the hotspot while the mechanism itself is still under construction. Continue Reading…
I am excited to have joined Loughborough’s Geography Department as Vice-Chancellor’s Fellow as of last week – one of the five that have been recruited across the entire University. The fantastic post comes with fully-funded, nationality/residence-free PhD studentship – do consider applying if you want to join a great cohort of critical geographers in the East Midlands!
The last 2,5 years at Durham have been absolutely wonderful. I will of course still be working with Joe Painter, Sue Lewis, Paul Langley and Colin McFarlane on the PUrSI project – and looking forward to the projects to come!
Nice’s promenade follows on a long string of attacks against the dense and the banal: against the overlooked ordinary that comprises our daily existence.
Once again there will be an influx of notes of sorrow, by now customary calls for unity in face of the terror gripping our cities, our streets: the spaces of our public, convivial existence.
But there is already something not-quite-right about the prime sentiment that grips some of us this morning as we skim through the endless videos of Nice’s howling urban beach-front stampede. The feeling that the city’s screaming agony is on the verge of becoming as commonplace as the street lights and the wide avenues on which it unfolds: an inseparable, however unwelcome, by-product of urban life.
One commonplace feature replacing another: for all their diversity in tactics the recent string of attacks in France all locked on one very specific target, urban density.
Bataclan, Stade de France, the Nice Promenade: all spaces of public gathering, of the get-together that has made life in our cities stimulating and even enjoyable in face of and despite the adversity that plays out in the international political arena. Everyday spaces where we can come meet and shelter one another underneath the dark clouds looming over a Europe that is becoming more reactionary and inward by the day.
Back in November I reflected on November’s attacks in Paris fearing for a three-fold attack on the urban spirit across European soil: EU-wide introversion, the deployment of the army in urban terrain, and our own – largely voluntary – abstaining from the joy of the unexpected that comes with letting go of control, and opening up to the possibility of encounter. Continue Reading…
With contributions from Étienne Balibar, William Davies, Akwugo Emejulu, John R. Gillingham, Peter Hallward, Laleh Khalili, Stathis Kouvelakis, Sam Kriss, Rebecca Omonira-Oyekanmi, Lara Pawson, Salvage Editors, Wail Qasim, Wolfgang Streeck, Antonis Vradis
Pretty much exactly one year ago, me and a group of friends found ourselves in a remote village in the countryside of the Peloponnese, watching with awe and some admitted excitement as Alexis Tsipras was announcing a surprise referendum on something whose wording didn’t quite help one understand what it was about. Yet most of us took this as a veiled suggestion, a hint at questioning Greece’s place in the euro (and potentially the EU), and voted accordingly. This is where the similarities with Britain’s turbulent moment lie: the majority of the Greek population, just like the British one yesterday, did bite the bullet and voted against both what the status quo had paternally asked for, against what was perceived to be its own self-interest.
But this is also pretty much where the similarities end. The Brexit vote was led by nationalism and racism, as we saw: the fictitious “migrant influx” into the UK elevated to a major national calamity that has to be avoided by any cost. We chilled as we watched the Nazi-reminiscent propaganda and gasped at the frivolous way in which the dominant discourse sank into a vile anti-foreigner rant. In this sense there is, of course, nothing to immediately celebrate about yesterday’s vote. The most reactionary side has won. But what was the other side ever about? Why did the progressive voices of Britain―and much of Europe as a whole―largely uncritically align themselves with the likes of David Cameron, Martin Schulz and all those Heroes of the People? Continue Reading…
May 16, 2016 – Antonis Vradis & Anna Papoutsi.
After delivering her verdict on Pope Francis’ move to rescue asylum seekers on Lesbos, Anja Karlsson Franck asked us to seek out a rejoinder from Antonis Vradis and Anna Papoutsi at the Transcapes project in Durham. This week, they seek to answer Anja’s question about whether we can help refugees without exploiting them. They suggest that while high-level diplomatic moves by the Pope and others should be regarded with caution, the grassroots efforts to establish meaningful solidarity with migrants and refugees might indeed change the way Europeans see themselves and others.