1st Edition

Interpreting Human Rights Narratives from Asylum Centers in Greece

By Maria-Artemis Kolliniati Copyright 2025
    180 Pages
    by Routledge

    Kolliniati’s groundbreaking book, Interpreting Human Rights: Narratives from Refugee Centers in Greece, challenges the notion that the interpretation and application of human rights primarily occur within the corridors of power in Strasbourg or official European institutions. It argues that such interpretation takes place in the grassroots settings of rural areas and neighborhoods, by actors who do not belong to the class of decision-making elites.

    Focusing on the Aegean islands as exemplary sites of the European refugee crisis, the book draws on research conducted among local actors, including mayors, municipal councillors, representatives of NGOs, and staff at refugee reception and identification centers. The book is divided into five distinctive sections: Methodology, Legal Framework and the Emergence of Hotspots, Empirical Research: Narratives of Local Actors, Local Narratives and Political Attitudes, and Glocalisation of Human Rights. The study explores the role of human rights in narratives surrounding refugee flows, categorizing responses according to various political theory approaches such as global liberalism, egalitarianism, communitarianism, and conservatism. By integrating applied political theory with localized human rights interpretations, this book offers actionable steps for addressing the challenges of migration in today's interconnected world.

    By amplifying the voices of those directly engaged with one of contemporary Europe's most significant challenges, Interpreting Human Rights will appeal to scholars of sociology, political theory, politics, and international law, particularly those interested in migration, human rights and refugee studies.

    Introduction  Chapter 1. Human rights and local level  Chapter 2. Empirical research: Methodology and theoretical framework  Chapter 3. EU and national legal provisions about asylum seekers  Chapter 4. Hotspots mandate and the role of the EU  Chapter 5. Chios, Vial  Chapter 6. Cos, Pyli  Chapter 7. Leros, Lepida  Chapter 8. Lesvos, Moria until Sept. 2020 and Mavrovouni or Kara Tepe: Introduction  Chapter 9. Samos, Vathy  Chapter 10. Partiality: Communitarianism and conservatism  Chapter 11. Impartiality: Global liberalism and egalitarian liberalism  Chapter 13. Pushbacks  Chapter 14. Portraying the relationship between human rights and Reception and Identification Centres (RICs) in Chios, Cos, Leros, Lesvos, Samos  Chapter 15. Human rights fulfilment at the local level: Glocalisation and vernacularization of human rights through social justice and solidarity  Conclusion  Bibliography  Appendix  Index


    Dr. Maria-Artemis Kolliniati is an adjunct lecturer of Human Rights and Forced Migration in the MA collaborative programs at TU Darmstadt and Goethe University Frankfurt. She teaches Human Rights at the Hellenic Open University and 'Ethics, Politics, Law' at the University of Athens School of Philosophy. Previously, she taught Jurisprudence at the University of Glasgow Law School. She was awarded a scholarship from the State Scholarships Foundation (I.K.Y.) for her postdoctoral research, which she pursued and completed at the University of Athens School of Political Science. She holds a PhD in Political Science (2018) from the Ruprecht-Karl-University of Heidelberg.

    "For anyone interested in the role of human rights in current-day Europe, the Aegean islands are a good place to start looking. They stand for some of the most flagrant human rights violations of our times, but also show the continued relevance of ‘rights talk’. This book, based on thorough empirical and comparative research contains insights on the localization of human rights with a relevance that reaches far beyond this case study. Highly recommended for policy makers and scholars alike!"

    Barbara Oomen, Professor of Sociology of Human Rights at Utrecht University and President of HZ University of Applied Sciences in Zeeland.

    "Kolliniati´s book creates a fruitful encounter between empirical research, political theory and jurisprudence. It shows that local actors are not passive recipients of European asylum policy, but make their voices heard in a language of rights. An extremely valuable contribution to understanding the making of human rights."

    Jürgen Bast, Professor of Public Law and European Law at Justus Liebig University Giessen, Research Group "Human Rights Discourse in Migration Societies" (MeDiMi)

    "The practical application of political philosophy is becoming increasingly important. The combination of narratives regarding human rights and asylum centers with contemporary political philosophy principles stands out as a notable innovation. Kolliniati's outstanding book adeptly navigates readers through the main arguments in the field, conducting interdisciplinary research. This is a compelling read for scholars and students interested in the subject."

    George Ν. Politis, Professor of Social Philosophy, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens

    "Kollinati’s fascinating interdisciplinary work is a prime example of how to gain insight into complex phenomena like migration and asylum politics through a micro-oriented perspective on narratives and local actors’ practices. By drawing on interviews and field work in Greece, she demonstrates how human rights work in and through practices on the ground and are negotiated by various political actors using competing narratives. A must-read for students and scholars interested in narrative research, in political theory and local perspectives in IR!"

    Frank Gadinger, Professor for International Relations, University of Münster

    "A landmark contribution to both the literature on the practice of human rights and to wider debates about the future of human rights in a time of crisis, uncertainty, but also of possibility. As her beautifully written book shows, the future of human rights—as idea, as law, as politics—is in the hands of those whose lives depend upon it."

    Mark Goodale, Leverhulme Trust Visiting Professor, University of Oxford, author of Reinventing Human Rights