Since the global financial crisis of 2008, Greece has shouldered a heavy burden struggling with internal political and financial insecurity as well as hosting enormous numbers of migrants and asylum seekers who arrive by land and sea. In On the Doorstep of Europe, Heath Cabot presents an ethnographic study of the asylum system in Greece, tracing the ways asylum seekers, bureaucrats, and service providers attempt to navigate the dilemmas of governance, ethics, knowledge, and social relations that emerge through this legal process. Centering on the work of an asylum advocacy NGO in Athens, Cabot explores how workers and clients grapple with predicaments endemic to Europeanization and rights-based protection. Drawing inspiration from classical Greek tragedy to highlight both the transformative potential and violence of law, Cabot charts the structural violence effected through European governance, rights frameworks, and humanitarian intervention while also exploring how Greek society is being remade from the inside out. She shows how, in contemporary Greece, relationships between insiders and outsiders are radically reconfigured through legal, political, and economic crises.
Now updated with a preface reflecting on the critical stakes of the book’s exploration of refuge in light of events that have transpired in and beyond Europe since its initial publication, On the Doorstep of Europe highlights how border crossers and residents in countries of arrival navigate legal and political violence. Cabot’s on-the-ground account of asylum and immigration in Europe’s borderlands, based on fieldwork conducted between 2004 and 2011, shows how the difficulties encountered by asylum seekers in an earlier time remain relevant and revealing in the face of ongoing crises and challenges today.
Heath Cabot is Associate Professor in the Department of Social Anthropology at the University of Bergen.