See 2018

28 February

Outsourcing, assessing, forwarding, or the politics of vulnerability.
(a methodographic sketch of Interruption Devices at the external European border)

Time: 12.30 - 14.00 hrs
Venue: Ravelijn, RA 1315
Speakers: Melina Antonakaki, Technical University of Munich, Munich Center for Technology in Society


In this presentation I offer an ethnographically inspired argument on the distribution of biomedical and humanitarian expertise at the external European border (at Hotspot camps, Greece). I focus on observations during interviews and particularly to the fact that these on-the-spot sessions were repeatedly interrupted by working-environment 'emergencies' (i.e. real operational crises, infrastructural malfunctions, but also 'casual' moments of camp life). So much ethnographic insight on the organizational and political life of the camp was caught at moments of interruption. Important empirical findings indeed stemmed out of contrasting the streamlined operations against the background of these interruptions that point beyond improvisation and informality as modes of theorizing: i.e.

  • vulnerability as a classification schema is all over the walls, flyers and other distributed material but nowhere in particular as far as the “pipeline of operations” of the Hotspot is concerned.
  • Instead 'vulnerability assessment' pops unexpectedly at all steps of the identification and registration process by some misfit case, and there & then the flow of work is being interrupted by the informal workings/negotiations of refugees, volunteers, activists and medical practitioners.
  • there is a place for health care professionals in the 'pipeline', but neither the process nor the product of it relate to health care.
  • the health checks of new arrivals are interrupted by the demands and needs of people stuck on the island, creating this weird category of old arrivals that comes with no further workable associations.
  • the in- and outsides of the camp inform one about austerity on the island itself and the precarious apparatus of accumulated expertise and responsibility for drug administration that has formed.
  • I attempt here to account for those practices that would have remained inaccessible should the interruption had not taken place in front of our eyes, ears and recording machines.