Roza Sarakatsanou

Thesis title

Rescuing refugees in the maritime space of the Aegean Sea: An interdisciplinary analysis of hybridization between solidarity and humanitarian action in Greece.


In recent years, in the Aegean maritime space between Greece and Turkey, groups of activists and non-governmental organisations (NGOs), whose primer aim is to rescue refugees, have faced accusations of participating in illegal actions, with the most common being smuggling and human trafficking. This constant criminalisation has led to the emergence of a hybrid space between “solidarity” and “humanitarianism”.

In this context of hybridisation, where humanitarian action does not consist simply of acts of mere rescue, new relations of support and political alliance can be formed between activists and refugees. This form of hybridity allows refugees to participate equally in actions of solidarity, and express their political claims.

This doctoral dissertation will study the hybridisation of humanitarian action, namely the gradual coalescence between humanitarians and activists, and its implication on the political spectrum during periods of crisis. I intend to focus on the rescue of refugees in the South-eastern Mediterranean and borders between Europe and the Middle East during the “European migration crisis” from 2015.

My main case-study is Greece since it was the entry point of populations from the Middle East and Northern Africa and is represented not only as a national but a European border.