About the Speaker:

Dr. Berhane broadly researches the ways in which African refugees challenge discursive and legal-juridical frameworks that undergird the Central Mediterranean crossing. She studies the ways in which Eritrean refugee activists engage with colonial, pos-colonial and neo-colonial policies and embedded histories in Italy within efforts to redress multi-modal violence.

About the Talk:

Eritreans experience a paradox: Global North countries recognize Eritreans as international refugees while simultaneously expending considerable resources to block Eritreans' movement. This blocking, in turn, makes possible the extreme predation and violence that many experience in transit. At the same time, Eritreans are criminalized as alleged perpetrators of human smuggling and trafficking and surveilled once they arrive in Europe. Thus, I argue that asylum should be conceptualized beyond the moment of legal recognition; rather, the phenomenon ought to be understood as a social and political process, replete with conflicting moral, political, and material demands and interests. The experience of Eritreans migrating to Euro demonstrates the often-contradictory politics and policies that frame asylum in contemporary Europe, politics and policies that not only oscillate between compassion and repression (Fassin 2005), but also engage fundamental questions around race, the colonial past, and the meaning of the European project itself, as the EU partners with North African and Sub-Saharan regimes to arrest migrant mobilities.

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