The Perils of Migration. Countervailing Mediations of Risk at the EU’s Maritime Frontier

Heller, Charles and Pezzani, Lorenzo. 2020. The Perils of Migration. Countervailing Mediations of Risk at the EU’s Maritime Frontier. In: Bishnupriya Ghosh and Bhaskar Sarkar, eds. The Routledge Companion to Media and Risk. New York: Routledge. ISBN 9781138638938 [Book Section]

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Abstract or Description

This chapter traces the successive strategies developed by the Forensic Oceanography project we have led since 2011 to document and contest the conditions leading to large-scale deaths of migrants at sea. The chapter first traces the aesthetic regime within and against which the project sought to position itself. It then analyzes the project’s shift from the documentation of specific practices of actors at sea leading to cases of deaths (such as the “Left-to-die Boat”), to the reconstruction of the lethal effects of state policies (such as the ending of the Mare Nostrum operation), and finally its contribution towards the WatchTheMed Alarm Phone, a 24/7-operating nongovernmental emergency phone line allowing to intervene directly to support migrants in distress at sea. While European agencies such as Frontex operate a state-centered “risk analysis” in the aim of neutralizing the “threat” illegalized migrants are constructed as constituting, Forensic Oceanography has forged a form of migrant-centered “counter-risk analysis,” which seeks to contest the violence of borders and mitigate the risks that migrants encounter as a result of state policies. The Mediterranean mobility conflict, this chapter demonstrates, is also fought out through conflicting knowledges and mediations of the border.

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Book Section

Additional Information:

"This is an Accepted Manuscript of a book chapter published by Routledge in The Routledge Companion to Media and Risk on 26 February 2020, available online:”

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Visual Cultures > Centre for Research Architecture


26 February 2020Published

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Date Deposited:

10 Jan 2022 14:18

Last Modified:

11 Jan 2022 18:14


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