Cite as: James, M., 2019, "Care and cruelty in Chios: the “refugee crisis” and the limits of Europe", Ethnic and Racial Studies 42:14, 2470-2489, DOI: 10.1080/01419870.2019.1617425.
Focusing on Chios, at the start of 2016, and my experience there as a volunteer, this paper aims to understand the forms of violence that unfolded in that location and considers what they mean for the social and political transformation of Europe. Violence takes many forms, but in this paper I focus on cruelty – specifically, modern, colonial and racial acts of excessive violence committed without regard for the victim. Secondly, the paper develops a feminist and postcolonial analysis of care. This analysis is concerned with acts of empathy, responsibility and relation that acted as correctives to cruelty. The paper shows how cruelty and care are intertwined and how their quotidian workings reveal wider patterns of violence and responsibility. However, rather than reiterate that care is ensnared in cruelty, this paper defends care’s autonomy, vitality and centrality to an alternative humanist ethics.
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