Middle East Studies

Eirini Avramopolou

Panteion University of Social and Political Sciences, Athens, Greece

Living archives of death: Representational violence and the aporia of freedom

The Greek island of Leros has a long history of ambiguous and discontinuous layering processes of violence and trauma -most recently being stigmatised because of the inhumane psychiatric treatment to many of the patients of the Leros Psychiatric Hospital, which admitted more than 4,000 on the island between its opening in 1958 and the psychiatric reformations that started to be implemented in the 1990s. In 2015 the decision to build a refugee "Hotspot" (camp) in the area of Lepida recalled past traumas, as more than 38,000 refugees passed through the island, whose permanent population numbers fewer than 9,000 inhabitants. This paper draws from my ethnographic research conducted during the last three years regarding the multifaceted and ambivalent stories of war, death, violence and confinement defining the affective geopolitics of the island of Leros in order to interrogate forms of epistemic and archival violence done in the name of the 'suffering' body. Hence, I ask: How can we perceive the relationship between space and identity without reproducing neocolonial ideologies still present in any encounter with suffering and alterity? In other words, how can one narrate an injurious story without creating a new injury, especially when names and identities, like the 'psychiatric patient', the 'refugee' etc., become the only guarantee for one's survival? Moreover, what does the desire for freedom mean in a context defined by representational tropes attached to the gendered and racialized biopolitical apparatus of asylum management?

Eirini Avramopoulou, is assistant professor of social anthropology at Panteion University of Social and Political Sciences, Athens, Greece. She received a PhD in Social Anthropology from the University of Cambridge (2012), and conducted research in Istanbul, Turkey regarding the affective language of gender and queer activism. Her research interests include anthropology of human rights, social movements and activism; feminist, postcolonial and psychoanalytic approaches to subjectivity, biopolitics and affect. She is the author of Porno-graphics and Porno-tactics: Desire, Affect and Representation in Pornography, (co-edited with Irene Peano, 2016, Punctum Books), and Affect in the Political: Subjectivities, Power and Inequalities in the Modern World, 2018, Nissos: Athens (in Greek).

Keywords: asylum, migration, trauma, affective geopolitics, suffering and alterity, injury, asylum management