Conference Contribution Details
Mandatory Fields
Barbara Siller
Violence, Space and the Political
The Back Door to Cherished Europe – Mount Gurugu on the North African Coast
NUI, Galway
Invited Lectures (Conference)
Optional Fields
While African migrants in Tomás Ávila Laurel’s book The Gurugu Pledge (published by And Other Stories 2017) are waiting on Mount Gurugu to step through the door to the “promised lands” of Europe, they practice various strategies of survival, tell of geographies of their life-stories and create spaces of imagination and illusion (Soja). Having left behind their home space, they are confronted with an authoritative door which doesn’t open up for them since it is well safeguarded by the power of police. While, according to Simmel, a door represents the act of separating and connecting, and precisely therefore allows for mobility and freedom, in the case of Mount Gurugu the door seems to be of a different type. Mount Gurugu is a highly controlled space, where power and the reinforcement of immobility are spatialized and where practices of violence are ubiquitous. As a one-sided door – migrants only wish to open it and to step through –, the door resembles the Kafkian door in the parable Before the law. To wait in hope becomes the main spatial practice. Similarly to the man from the countryside in Kafka, the migrants desire to find behind the door the space of imagination, even though they have no guarantee for it. On the example of Ávila Laurel’s narrative the paper reflects on the specific nature of this door at the border of Europe, on the spatialisation of power and violence as well as on the migrants’ practices in this restrictive space.