americananthropologist.org | 3 February 2022
What Was Moria and What Comes Next?
A portfolio of reflections and responses solicited and edited by Yannis Hamilakis (Brown University)
Moria was the largest refugee camp in Europe, located on the Greek border island of Lesvos. It occupied a central position in the global media and in popular and academic discussions on migration. The camp was completely destroyed by fire in September 2020. In this portfolio of short responses, we have gathered around the ashes of Moria to take stock of what we know and feel about the place in order to conjure up the thoughts and plan the writings to come. We are archaeologists, social anthropologists, teachers, authors, and activists; some of us are on the move, but all of us have direct experience of the place, a place we will continue carrying with us in our own journeys. Yannis Hamilakis’s essay introduces the context and the rationale of this portfolio, offering at the same time background to Moria and a few first reflections on its role and meanings. Katerina Rozakou takes us back to the summer of 2015, when Moria embodied hope. Parwana Amiri adopts various personae to recount the risks, the threats, and the daily violence that the inhabitants of Moria experienced. Zakria Farzad talks of his efforts to build self-help mutual-aid initiatives. Shahram Khosravi narrates his encounters with people from Afghanistan he met in Moria and makes the connection with people whom he met in Iran, planning the same journey but unaware of the Moria realities. Dionysis Pavlou recounts the impossible struggles to establish an educational program inside the camp. Yannis Hamilakis takes us on a tour among the burnt remnants, reflecting on ruination as a material condition that engenders new knowledge and affect. Penelope Papailias looks at the September 2020 fire as a media event. And finally, Giorgos Tyrikos-Ergas’s fictional piece is an oblique take from the point of view of local society.