chapter  15
12 Pages

The role of ‘nature’ at the EU maritime borders

Agency, ethics, and accountability 1
WithEstela Schindel

The securitization of the EU borders does not hinder refugees and migrants from trying to cross them, but rather lead them to take more risks, creating the conditions for deaths at the European borderlands. In addition to or instead of walls, illegalized travelers are confronted with the hardships of precariously crossing deserts or seas. Environmental factors like geography, topography and weather are thus part of the border assemblages and imbricated in the complex chains of responsibility and accountability for migrants’ deaths, as well as in what Alison Mountz calls strategies of neo-refoulement. However, a widespread de-historicized and de-politicized construction of ‘nature’ conceals the moral responsibility behind the borders lethal condition by displacing agency towards those apparent neutral forces. The article inquiries about the role of such environmental factors in this context. My claim is that what we considered ‘nature’ is key for understanding the problem of ethics, responsibility and accountability for the deaths at the EU borders and needs to be disentangled and exposed. This chapter draws theoretically on authors that engage with the ‘post-human’ assemblages in border studies and is based empirically on observations and interviews conducted during fieldwork at the Greek-Turkish sea border zone between 2013 and 2016.