Cite as: Papataxiarchis, E. (2016), Being ‘there’: At the front line of the ‘European refugee crisis’ - part 1. Anthropology Today, 32: 5–9. doi:10.1111/1467-8322.12237
In the course of 2015, Skala Sykamnias, a fishing village and tourist idyll on the northern coast of Lesbos, by accident of its geographical location, has turned into the informal gate into Europe for more than 200.000 refugees. In this article the author analyses the massive flows of people and things that transverse his fieldwork site from different directions: the great diversity of actors enacting what are often dissonant ideals and strategies, the several theatres of operation and reception ‘structures’, both frontline and back stage, and the debates that revolve around humanitarian action in the region. The local community is falling apart whilst to the incoming it represents the gateway to freedom. It is becoming a mini theatre of conflicts that echoes wider debates on the political future of Europe.