Burying the victims of Europe’s border in a Tunisian coastal
The Mediterranean Sea has recently become the deadliest of borders for
illegalised travellers. The victims of the European Union’s liquid border
are also found near North African shores. The question of how and where to bury
these unknown persons has recently come to the fore in Zarzis, a coastal town in
south-east Tunisia. Everyone involved in these burials – the coastguards,
doctors, Red Crescent volunteers, municipality employees – agree that
what they are doing is ‘wrong’. It is neither dignified nor
respectful to the dead, as the land used as a cemetery is an old waste dump, and
customary attitudes towards the dead are difficult to realise. This article will
first trace how this situation developed, despite the psychological discomfort
of all those affected. It will then explore how the work of care and dignity
emerges within this institutional chain, and what this may tell us about what
constitutes the concept of the human.
Mark Doidge, Radosław Kossakowski and Svenja Mintert
99 and The Unity 01 at Borussia Dortmund,
Commando Canstatt 1997 at VfB Stuttgart and Ultras Nürnberg 1994.
Invented traditions need a formation date and these are memorialised on
banners, flags and clothing.
The spread across the Mediterranean
The geographical location of Italy ensured that the ultras style of fandom
was more readily accessible than the English style in Southern Europe.
As the English style spread into Northern France, the Netherlands
and Germany, and then into Central Europe and Poland, fans across
Southern Europe began following the Italian
over borders and citizenship.
Incidents of migrants and refugees dying in their efforts to cross the Aegean
border and enter Greece and the EU have become a tragic consequence of contemporary EU border policy, as they have in many other parts of the Mediterranean.
In October 2013 a shipwreck of unprecedented magnitude near the Italian island
of Lampedusa left approximately 364 immigrants dead (Shenker 2013). Deadly
incidents have also taken place in the Spanish coastal enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla,
where migrants and refugees try to reach the EU border (Morcillo
Madeleine Hurd, Hastings Donnan and Carolin Leutloff-Grandits
have already endured precarious crossings
of the Mediterranean to reach European shores and ultimately the destinations in
Germany, Sweden or Britain that seem to promise them a future, are trapped at
borders in Macedonia, Hungary, Croatia and Slovenia where newly constructed
fences impede their progress. The fact that citizens of states like Kosovo, Albania,
Macedonia and Serbia may themselves be among those who strive to leave, given
the difficult conditions they face at home, does not seem to have tempered these
new border-crossing policies of foreclosure.
Culture, 10(2): 225–247.
Appadurai, A. (2006) Fear of Small Numbers. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.
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Barth, F. (1969) Ethnic Groups and Boundaries. Boston: Little, Brown.
Baškar, B. (2012) ‘Komšiluk and taking care of the neighbours’ shrine in Bosnia–
Herzegovina’, in D. Albera and M. Couroucli (eds), Sharing Sacred Space in the
Mediterranean. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, pp. 51–68.
Brandtstädter, S. (2007
Tracing relatedness and diversity in the Albanian–Montenegrin borderland
Bojan Baskar and Borut Brumen (eds),
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Ljubljana, pp. 99–129.
Gingrich, Andre and Richard G. Fox (2002) ‘Introduction’, in Andre Gingrich and Richard
G. Fox (eds), Anthropology, by Comparison. London: Routledge, pp. 1–24.
Green, S.F. (2009) Lines, Traces and Tidemarks: Reflections on Forms of Borderli-ness,
COST Action IS0803 Working Paper 1. www.eastbordnet.org/working_papers/open/
documents/Green_Lines_Traces_and_Tidemarks_090414.pdf. Accessed 9 August
Heiss, Johann and Martin
the summer of 1941 in which the Ustaša interned
and murdered Serbian and Jewish prisoners. One of these camps
was located on the Mediterranean island of Pag and another close
to a hamlet called Jadovno in the coastal mountains. In neither
camp had any buildings, such as crematoria, been constructed.
Here, the question is whether we can demonstrate that the Ustaša
planned the mass murder in advance, or whether it was not, rather,
mounting brutality which led to the security guards massacring a
large number of the prisoners. Another question in this respect is
Mark Doidge, Radosław Kossakowski and Svenja Mintert
to facilitate division on national or ethnic
lines. Occasionally, this leads to violence, racism and abuse. For others
it encourages cross-cultural exchange. The ‘English disease’ of hooliganism influenced masculine fan groups across Europe in the 1980s
(Giulianotti, 1999; Spaaij, 2006; Tsoukala, 2009). Since the 1990s, the
ultras style of fandom has spread from Italy across the Mediterranean
and is now the dominant form of fandom in Europe and globally in
general. Significantly, both
beach house in the Hamptons (Davis and Monk 2007: 13), so one should remain
Guweida begins his article by commenting on the circulating news that
some villas in the exclusive resorts of the North Coast of the Mediterranean
have recently been purchased for the astronomical price of 110 million Egyptian
pounds (L.E.) (roughly US$6 million, at the September 2018 exchange rate),
while the cheapest variety within the same compound were sold for 37 million
L.E. (roughly US$2 million). In dismay, Guweida laments the fact that almost
all of these villas, used for
. Although they cannot annihilate the histories of the
major cities like Alexandria, Mansura, and Cairo, they do nothing to stop
the organised mafias who have got hold of large amounts of real estate and
monopolise the construction sector. In Alexandria, for instance, and all along
the Mediterranean coast, no one is concerned about the aesthetics of the
ugly, crowded, nightmarish towers. Instead, the worry is that these towers
have started to collapse like houses of cards, and thousands may die under
the rubble in the decades to come. Indeed, it needs little intelligence