Citizen Humanitarianism at European Borders  book cover
1st Edition

Citizen Humanitarianism at European Borders

ISBN 9780367557133
Published June 17, 2021 by Routledge
224 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

At a time of escalating conflict between states and NGOs engaged in migrant search and rescue operations across the Mediterranean, this book explores the emerging trend of citizen-led forms of helping others at the borders of Europe.

In recent years, Europe’s borders have become new sites of intervention for traditional humanitarian actors and governmental agencies, but also, increasingly, for volunteer and activist initiatives led by "ordinary" citizens. This book sets out to interrogate the shifting relationship between humanitarianism, the securitization of border and migration regimes, and citizenship. Critically examining the "do it yourself" character of refugee aid practices performed by non-professionals coming together to help in informal and spontaneous manners, the volume considers the extent to which these new humanitarian practices challenge established conceptualisations of membership, belonging, and active citizenship. Drawing on case studies from countries around Europe including Greece, Turkey, Italy, France and Russia, this collection constitutes an innovative and theoretically engaged attempt to bring the field of humanitarian studies into dialogue with studies of grassroots refugee aid and, more explicitly, with political forms of solidarity with migrants and refugees which fall between aid and activism.

This book is key reading for advanced students and researchers of humanitarian aid, European migration and refugees, and citizen-led activism.

Table of Contents

Part 1: Resisting or Becoming "The System"? Humanitarianism Between Citizenship and the Ngo World  1. Filling the Gaps: Citizen Humanitarianism in the Context of Crisis, Abandonment and Criminalisation  2. A Community Center in a Humanitarian Context: The Professionalization of a Grassroots Initiative in Istanbul, Turkey  3. Citizen Humanitarianism and Local Responses to the Migration Crisis in Serbia  4. "They Just Come and Try to Help": Exploring the Prioritisation of Downstream Accountability in Calais’ Citizen-Led Humanitarianism  Part 2: Criminalization and Violence Against Citizen Humanitarianism  5. Melilla: Fight and Survival of Activist Humanitarianism  6. A More Subversive Humanitarianism? The Political Strategies of Grassroots Initiatives Supporting Illegalized Migrants  7. Beyond Borders: The Transnational Turn of Russian Refugee Aid  Part 3: The Multifaceted Politics of Citizenship Humanitarianism  8. Contesting Humanitarianism Through Solidarity and Hospitality in the French-Italian Borderscape  9. Proximity and Protest: Citizen Demonstrations Against Anti-Immigrant Policies in Eastern Sicily  10. Memorial Tourism and Citizen Humanitarianism: Volunteers’ Civil Pilgrimage to the "Life Jackets Graveyard" Of Lesvos, Greece  11. Approaching Biographical Life: Grassroots Humanitarianism in Europe 


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Maria Gabrielsen Jumbert is a senior researcher and research director at the Dimensions of Security Department, Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO), Norway.

Elisa Pascucci is a researcher at EuroStorie CoE, Faculty of Arts, University of Helsinki, Finland.


"This wide-ranging volume is a much-needed intervention in the study of citizen humanitarianism. Tackling an emerging and increasingly important aspect of everyday humanitarian practice, the volume asks important questions around the political possibilities of such work forcing scholars and practitioners alike to reflect on what it means to ‘do good’." -- Polly Pallister-Wilkins, University of Amsterdam, Netherlands

"This innovative and important book highlights the compelling stories of citizen-led forms of mobilization and care on behalf of migrants. Beautifully theorized and richly empirical, it arrives at a critical time, offering a nuanced approach to both the potential and the limits of humanitarian assistance." -- Katharyne Mitchell, University of California, Santa Cruz, USA