Faculty of Arts - Spain, Duesto
|Datum:||12 maart 2020|
|Auteur:||Clara Miralles Vila|
In January 2019, I was awarded with the Groningen University Fund’s grant for outstanding students for the purpose of my semester abroad at the University of Deusto (Bilbao, Spain). During my studies there, I could use the grant to design and carry out a research and advocacy project, which was also the final project for my Honours Master programme.
I conducted a two-week field research in the city of Melilla, a Spanish autonomous city located on the north coast of Africa. Bordering Morocco, the city is an entry point for people fleeing their countries and trying to reach Europe in the hope of a better future. At the same time, it is a clear example of the border securitization and externalisation process that has been characteristic of the Spanish and European anti-migration policies of the past decades.
The research focused on the human rights violations that are systematically taking place at this ‘gate of Europe’ and on the citizen movements that emerge as a reaction against them. Together with a pro-human rights activist and photographer, I visited the fence and met those living on both side of the border.
Out of this intense experience we created a photographic exhibition, which was exhibited in July 2019 at the University of Deusto and can be visited online at www.borderlinemelilla.com. The aim of the exhibitions was to inform, raise awareness, and promote action, as well as to foster a critical debate on migration and refuge, human rights, and the worrisome fencing of Europe.
In addition to the photographic exhibition, I wrote a research paper that will soon be published in Routledge Humanitarian Studies Series, as part of an edited volume on citizen humanitarianism. The paper analyses the work of Prodein, a local association that has been fighting tirelessly since the 90s for human rights to be respected in this border space. Their actions are the result of a shared feeling of indignation at the situation, a declaration that asks for humans to be treated as humans, regardless of where they come from.