BORDER NATURES. The Environment as Weapon at the Edges of Greece

Levidis, Stefanos. 2021. BORDER NATURES. The Environment as Weapon at the Edges of Greece. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

Text (BORDER NATURES. The Environment as Weapon at the Edges of Greece)
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Abstract or Description

This practice-based PhD critically investigates the complex imbrications of political violence and environmental processes resulting in the construction of so-called “natural” borders: national boundaries where nature is understood to delimit and fortify the nation-state. Taking the frontiers of Greece as a case study, the thesis seeks to demonstrate that, contrary to conceptions of natural borders as spaces that operate devoid of human intervention, their materiality and natural processes are in fact hybridized and engineered by states to perform the specific, deadly tasks of deterrence, exclusion and erasure. Part I (Ghost Habitats) explores the mountainous, trilateral border area of the Prespa/Prespa/Prespës lakes between Greece, North Macedonia, and Albania, to consider how the delineation and enforcement of the border reconfigures regional ecosystems to render them into “wild” frontiers, subject to different legal orders than the remainder of sovereign territory. Part II (Anáchoma), co-researched with colleague Ifor Duncan (PhD, CRΑ/Post-doctoral fellow at Ca’ Foscari University, Venice) considers the Evros/Meriç/Maritsa river between Greece, Turkey and Bulgaria as an apparatus of border violence and obfuscation, as well as a body which records, stores, and occasionally reveals this violence through seasonal shifts in its hydrological cycle. Part III (Grey Rocks, Black Waves) examines the archipelagic border of the Aegean Sea between Greece and Turkey, to discuss how its geographically and historically dense materiality is mobilized as a defensive infrastructure against contemporary migration at sea, and to reflect on a spatial and visual practice that attempts to decode this matter to reveal traces of state violence. In each case sovereign power organises, and is organised around, specific ecological processes to disperse the causal agencies of violence enacted against disempowered border subjects, and aspiring crossers. Incorporating a methodology that borrows from disciplines as diverse as forensics, filmmaking, archaeology, botany, and oceanography, the thesis contests commonplace understandings of territorial limits as lines that are simply scripted over natural backdrops, to critically include the multiple human agencies and their insidious use of ecological dynamics for the work of border defence. To describe these hybrid boundary environments, and the complex causal relationships they engender, the thesis introduces the operative concept of “border natures”: a synthesis of nature, space, technology and law, and connecting actors as diverse as border authorities, fences, technologies of surveillance, political and legal orders, human and more-than-human forms of life - rivers, waves, and mountains.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):

Additional Information:

This is a redacted version of the thesis, with third-party copyright material removed.


borders, frontiers, boundaries, nature, migration, weaponisation of nature, borderviolence, spatial research, Aegean, Evros, Meriç, Prespa, sea, river, mountain

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Visual Cultures > Centre for Research Architecture


31 August 2021

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

13 Sep 2021 14:07

Last Modified:

07 Sep 2022 17:19


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