Date of Degree

9-2020

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

M.A.

Program

Women's and Gender Studies

Advisor

Dána-Ain Davis

Committee Members

Dána-Ain Davis

Subject Categories

Development Studies | Gender and Sexuality | Human Geography | International Relations | Migration Studies

Keywords

Mediterranean, Migration, Refugee Crisis, Migrant Women, Crossing, European Union, Lesvos

Abstract

This thesis highlights a temporal and spatial gap in the feminist literature about migrants' journeys throughout the Mediterranean, and investigates the gendered dynamics acting upon the encounter between the European border and racialized bodies at sea. The Mediterranean sea’s material features allow Europe to approach migration as a humanitarian crisis coming from outside, which discharges its responsibility for the deaths. Yet, essentialistic views represent the feminized Other as vulnerable and needing to be saved from the male Other and the sea. Such views shape the Western narratives around concrete rescue procedures and border authorities behaviors. The encounter between the border and racialized bodies legitimizes, therefore, the perpetuation of the border's masculine enforcement. It guarantees the integrity of the European subject’s identity as a warrior against the savage man and a good savior of the vulnerable, both epistemologically and materially. I identify this gap to open a new horizon of possibilities to challenge the European masculine violence at the border. I suggest that further investigation should begin from an epistemological criticism to gendered mainstream narratives about migrants at sea. Visibilizing women's stories in the Mediterranean could bring to a new awareness about the dangers they face. In reality, gendered dangers for women at sea are connected to the structural injustice of the border that is epistemologically hidden behind the sea by the state. Thus, moving the focus to the sea could begin to dismantle the deadly wall in which Europe has transformed the sea.

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