Necropolitical Ecologies: Creative Articulations of Nature’s Death-Work in the Borderzone

Newns, L. (2023) Necropolitical Ecologies: Creative Articulations of Nature’s Death-Work in the Borderzone. Interventions: International Journal of Postcolonial Studies, 26 (1). pp. 36-51. ISSN 1469-929X

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In recent years, the increased incidence of migrant deaths along borders has transformed these zones into necropolitical spaces in which migrant lives are expendable in the pursuit of border “security.” At the borders of Europe, policies of “minimal assistance” leave migrants vulnerable to death by exposure due to the unpredictable currents of the Mediterranean, as occurred in the tragic case of the “Left-to-Die Boat” in 2011. In such instances, migrants are transformed into Agamben’s homo sacer; they are at once hyper-visible to the surveillant eyes of the law and are yet abandoned, “exposed,” in the “state of exception.” What is unique in the case of migrants who die at sea is how states and supra-states like the EU co-opt nature into carrying out their death-work in borderzones, producing what I call “necropolitical ecologies.” Armin Greder’s graphic narrative Mediterranean (2017) and Caroline Bergvall’s multi-disciplinary work of poetry Drift (2014) both elegize migrant deaths in the Mediterranean while demonstrating the sea’s presence as “vibrant matter” in the story of irregular migration. They each deploy unique formal strategies to represent the complex human/non-human entanglements of this death seascape. While Greder’s wordless visuals “excavate” the bodies that nature conceals from our eyes, Bergvall maximizes the aural qualities of language to covey the “drifting” effects of the water itself. As ecocritical texts, both works are engaged in a wider project of critiquing the colonial and capitalist exploitation of the non-human world. Through their portrayals of the necropolitical ecology of the Mediterranean, they suggest continuities between the violence transmitted to migrants in borderzones and that perpetuated on the natural environment around the world.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Published by Taylor & Francis in 2023. This is an author accepted manuscript of a published open access article available at Uploaded in accordance with the publishers self-archiving policy.
Keywords: Bergvall, Caroline, Greder, Armin, Mediterranean, migrants necropolitical ecology
Depositing User: Lucinda Newns
Date Deposited: 02 May 2024 09:22
Last Modified: 02 May 2024 09:36

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