In both the articles written by Natalie Zervou, the term legal limbo really catches my attention. The word ‘limbo’ is a Roman Catholic term which refers to “a place for infants who die after birth and before baptism”. Another word used to describe this state is ‘gray area’ because it is not certain if the infant can be regarded as a Christian or not. From an anthropological point of view as described in Zervou’s article Bodies of Silence and Resilience: Writing Marginality, legal limbo is a gray area between “undocumented illegality and refugee status” (175).
In this article, Zervou defines the term legal limbo and blames the “influx of illegal immigrants” to have increased the issue (175). She then touches upon the increasing interest of choreographers in this state and their attempts to help refugees or economic immigrants to reflect these issues and create awareness about it among an audience. She gives an example of a documentary Bodies of Resilience that focuses on the state of legal limbo and tries to explain how it affects an immigrant or a refugee (176,177). A script of this documentary that she includes in her article puts forward the idea of how these immigrants find themselves in equally challenging position as they did in their own countries. From the fear of authorities like police to the fear of nationalist extremists, these people who live in different countries without a legal documentation do not get to live a normal life (177). In her other article Fragments of the European Refugee Crisis, she includes an excerpt from Heath Cabot’s work On the Doorstep of Europe: Asylum and Citizenship in Greece to explain the state of legal limbo that “asylum seekers” get into when their request is neither accepted nor rejected (41). These refugees cannot completely get out of the trauma of leaving their own countries and start being optimistic about their new abode as they are still not sure if this new place is their home.
The reason why this term greatly interests me is because it makes me wonder how do the refugees survive with all this going on. If they are unable to take jobs, how are they going to take a new start? If this problem has not existed for them, it is very likely that these refugees develop a position of offering their skills to the host countries and thus taking off the financial burden from these countries. However, this is not as simple as it sounds. It is particularly because of the natural defensive position of the nationals who fear this very idea of losing their nationality in the hands of the “others” who are somewhere between being legal and illegal. I am really interested in this idea of creating awareness about this situation of migrants and refugees among the audience, particularly nationals, to make them look at the humanitarian side of the situation rather than political one. I wonder if Aakash’s piece #JeSuis portrays this state of legal limbo. Did Aakash get a chance to talk to the refugees how are they being affected by being in a legal limbo and how would they like the world to understand what they are going through?Vocabulary.com "Limbo." Accessed 9 Jan 2018. https://www.vocabulary.com/dictionary/limbo. Zervou, Natalie. "Bodies of Silence and Resistance: Writing Marginality." Congress on Research on Dance Conference Proceedings 2015. Accessed 9 Jan 2018. Zervou, Natalie. "Fragments of the European Refugee Criss: Performing Displacement and the Re-Shaping of Greek Identity." Project Muse 61. 2017. Accessed 9 Jan 2018.
Obviously, I’m commenting on this post now, after we returned from Greece, and I wonder how much the Greece trip answered some of your questions like getting jobs while in legal limbo and how doing so might take the “financial burden” off of the countries that you assume are supporting refugees. What we learned is that the money to support the refugees – what little they get and the shelter they receive, does not come from the government of Greece but rather from the UN High Commission on Refugees. If refugees took jobs – there is the perception that they would be taking work from Greek citizens during a terrible enduring economic crisis. So instead, without asylum or passports or work permits, they exist as Agamben wrote – as “bare life” where their basic needs for shelter and food are met – but not much more. It’s helpful to go back to Arendt and Agamben for perspective on your questions. Arendt says the the route to extermination – or in this case dying a slow death – maybe from depression, stagnation or from trying to escape without papers — starts with losing the legal attachements to a state. Remember she said that in Germany, Jews had to first be declared “non” citizens (so they didn’t have legal recourse in the national justice system) and then they could be sent to work camps and eventually extermination camps? What if we think of the legal limbo state as productive – producing people as sub-human so that there is less empathy for them and less responsibility to them? You also distinguish between “humanitarian” aid and political aid – but how can those two terms ever be divorced? Some people give support to refugees because of “Greekness” which they feel is a cultural trait — others don’t because they want the nation to be free of “alien” cultures. Why does humanitarian aid exist? It’s only because we eschew our political responsibility to support society beyond our family and borders. There would be no “humanitarian” aid if we were governed differently and we thought about responsibility in a global rather than national rubric. The idea of “legal limbo” is entirely attached to nation — go back and read the Arendt again for it ties your analysis to a critique of the structure of nation and the idea of who most deserves humanitarian attention. Super interesting post that really delves into both articles.
A writing comment – go to the writing center to review your posts. You are missing commas to set off clauses, journal titles should be set of by quotation marks, book and movie titles should be italicized.