Cite as: Spathopoulou, A., Pauliina Kallio, K. and Hakli, J., 2021, Outsourcing Hotspot Governance within the EU: Cultural Mediators as Humanitarian–Border Workers in Greece. International Political Sociology, 15(3), pp.359-377
Responding to the self-declared “Mediterranean migration crisis” in 2015, the European Commission launched a Hotspot Approach to speed up the handling of incoming migrants in the “frontline states” of Greece and Italy. A key element in this operation is the identification of those eligible for asylum, which requires effective communication across cultural and linguistic difference between the asylum system and the migrants, facilitated by officially designated “cultural mediators.” We assess the hotspot governance as a form of outsourcing border control within the EU territory. Beyond sorting out and separating migrants into the categories of deservingness and undeservingness, we propose that the hotspot mechanism represents “governing by communication,” with cultural mediators as key players in this humanitarian–bordering strategy.