I’m writing a PhD about migration, borders and social movements. I’m also involved in migration solidarity activism. I want to find ways of mixing the two. I want to find ways of showing genuine solidarity with people coming to live in Europe.

I want to share the experiences of this project, so I made this blog. I would be really interested to hear your opinions.

So, my research (and this blog) is about two things...

It’s about finding ways to make freedom of movement arguments work
Living in Europe with no or few rights is a deeply violent part of European border control. Estimates put the number of people living in situations of illegality within the EU at between 1.9 and 6.5 million people. Border controls create this exclusion. But control is only one side of the story. Mobility is about control but it is also about escape. People find means of autonomy; ways to stay free and ways that directly challenge control.

Escape is a way of looking at mobility as autonomy from control. If we think of escape as a form of autonomy, then mobility becomes about more than the act of movement of migrants. It becomes about the acts of all who seek to escape - migrants and natives – in collaboration with each other.

Questions I am asking:
·         Why do migrants face exclusion in Europe?
·         What do radical ways of thinking about mobility look like?
·         How are these radical ways of thinking practiced in reality?
·         What are the limits to these practices?

I am exploring these questions in Athens. I am spending one year in the city to document and participate in social struggle and to collect the narratives of activists on these issues – both migrants and natives.

And it’s about being an academic and an activist at the same time
I am an anarchist involved in direct action. I believe in autonomy. I have also been involved in migrant rights issues for several years. I want my research to refect these passions and bring them all together into a big research pie full of exciting stuff relevant to our lives.

I am a white, western woman in higher education I am privileged. Writing a PhD is also a privilege. It can be an opportunity for positive social justice by contributing to the movements academics speak about. But more often than not this is not what happens. Academic writing on migration generally seems to reinforce rather than disrupt the status quo.  Academics are often viewed with suspicion amongst activists (for protecting this status quo and their privilege) by commenting on, rather than from within movements themselves.

I want to write about migration as an activist, in way that challenges the idea that academics are the people who generate knowledge. I came to live in Greece so that I could understand through involvement, and so that my work would be not only academic but also political. I didn’t want to rock up, tape a few interviews and then disappear again. Being here doesn’t automatically give me the moral highground. But it’s a start, and this is a journey.