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Europe's Migration Crisis: Border Deaths and Human Dignity, Vicki Squire

Reviewed by Rebecca Hamlin

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This book is about pro-migrant activism, asking whether and when appeals to human dignity are effective at challenging policies that dehumanize border crossers. Vicki Squire's focus is on the European Union (EU), drawing on fieldwork and interviews in Italy and Malta to argue that the so-called migration crisis in Europe is actually a crisis of the European tradition of humanism. The first half of Europe's Migration Crisis provides a broad overview and critical analysis of the situation that unfolded in Europe during 2015–2016. The second half of the book engages in three case studies of pro-migrant activism, with a particular focus on the frames the groups use to humanize border crossers.

The book begins with an account of how the situation that began with mass arrivals into Europe in 2015–2016 became “embroiled in crisis politics” that was framed in European public discourse as a crisis for Europe (p. 36). Squire argues that instead of acknowledging Europe's responsibility for contributing to the deadliness and danger of the situation in the Mediterranean, Europe invested a lot of money in migration prevention in the form of border externalization and in migrant containment in the form of detention and monitoring. These practices form what Squire refers to as a racialized “biophysical violence” (p. 70)

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