The Greek–Turkish land border became the site of a border spectacle in March 2020, following the “opening” of the border by the Turkish government and its simultaneous closure by the Greek government. The ensuing violence was legitimated by narratives of exception and racist discourses hinging on the notions of “invasion” and “asymmetrical threats.” Yet, the spectacular and highly mediatized nature of the events of March 2020 hid the embeddedness and longevity of border violence in Evros, the area named after the river that constitutes the land border between Greece and Turkey.
Drawing on qualitative research including fieldwork, interviews and document analysis, we focus on the practice of pushbacks as an enduring feature of the local border regime. We argue that pushbacks and other forms of violence should not be conceived merely as human rights violations and therefore aberrations to the laws and values of Europe and its states, but as normalized technologies of border management embedded in the racialized, violent border regimes of liberal states, exemplifying the inherent and unavoidable violence of borders.
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