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Aidnik, Martin. “The Shadow of Lives Lost in the Mediterranean Over Europe.” Humanity & Society (2022): 01605976221120537.


Europe’s treatment of refugees provides growing evidence that the continent is losing its moral compass, and that Europe is increasingly callous – so-called Fortress Europe. Brute force, deterrence, including pushbacks and barbed wire fences have become the instruments with which European governments have responded to irregular migration and refugees. This article seeks to bring to the fore the contradiction between the EU’s self-proclaimed values — human dignity and human rights — and the callous policies of nation states and the EU’s migration regime. My main focus lies on the calamitous conditions of refugees and the thousands of deaths that have occurred in the Mediterranean Sea since 2015, the year that refugees fleeing Syria’s civil war started making their way to Europe. Importantly, the Mediterranean is the deadliest border in the world; it is the veritable global epicenter of lethal border crossings. Drawing on contemporary critical theory, I undertake a humanist critique of the European status quo. The EU, as a force for a better, more livable world, is on its way to becoming irrelevant, something that was evident well before the Covid-19 pandemic. This is what is principally at stake today.

The Illiberalism Studies Program studies the different faces of illiberal politics and thought in today’s world, taking into account the diversity of their cultural context, their intellectual genealogy, the sociology of their popular support, and their implications on the international scene.