When mobility is postponed: how the recent coronavirus pandemic affected refugees sheltering in Greek reception centres

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In this paper, I discuss how the recent (ongoing) pandemic has intensified the marginalization of refugees sheltering in reception centers in Greece, as I experienced it occurring amidst my fieldwork. 'Refugee reception centers' are the spaces of their 'accommodation', or rather the spaces that are allocated to them. They are at a distance from the urban settings, reinforcing spatially existing asymmetries between those who have a (more secure) place within the host society, and those who are waiting for their status to be recognized. While being 'on the move' they occupy a distinct position in global movements, as they are bodies who do not control capital, therefore they are »more expendable or peripheral« (see Dolby and Rizvi 2008). As sovereignty remains the dominant form of political order in the modern world, it further shapes a fundamental dichotomy between those who possess the legitimate political subjectivity (citizenship), and refugees, who, having fled from their home-state, have lost the privileges of having citizenship (Nyers 2006: 9). Additionally, until they receive a decision over their asylum request to define their status, they occupy the 'grey' category of 'asylum seeker'. Having lost their 'home', they are in limbo finding a new one. The pandemic and the measures assumed for its restriction affected refugees in multiple ways, deteriorating their already hard living conditions, and increasing the precarity and uncertainty they experience. Moreover, they highlighted the asymmetries between those who benefit from a legitimate belonging to a nation-state, and those who are in search of it. The discussion is structured around the following questions: What does 'social distance' and 'lockdown' mean for an asylum seeker sheltering in reception center? What are the implications for the refugees’ movement 'into' the host society?
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 20 Mar 2021
EventEntangled Im/Mobilities Conference 2021

: Perspectives from the Humanities and Social Sciences
- University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria
Duration: 18 Mar 202120 Mar 2021


ConferenceEntangled Im/Mobilities Conference 2021

Internet address

Bibliographical note

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  • mobility
  • immobility
  • pandemic
  • Social distance
  • refugees
  • asylum seekers


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