Shocking images of migrant bodies washed ashore, have almost become a macabre shorthand for migrant deaths on foreign shores as more and more refugees undertake perilous sea crossings and other hazardous inland journeys, in search of a better life. Postcolonial and migration studies have failed to engage with the urgent question of migrant deaths. Neoliberal necropolitics (Mbembe 2006) have often sought to erase the migrant body, not only through abjection and unrecognition, but primarily through death. Migrant bodies are left to “sink without a trace” (Mazzara and Ramsay) to the bottom of the sea or be consumed by vultures in the harsh desert terrain (De Leon). In response to these critiques, The Thanatic Ethics project was launched in 2020. It explores several questions about migrant deaths, including and beyond the representational. What is the ethical and political role of literature and the arts in the process that takes us from accounting for the dead to accountability, and then to reparative practices and gestures? How is our relationship to the bodies of the dead in migration, revelatory of our relationship to the living bodies in migration and more widely to the community of the living?
"Thanatic Ethics: The Circulation of Bodies in Migratory Spaces" seeks to explore these questions as they are articulated in literary and visual culture, and across disciplines. It is a large-scale project with multiple international partners.
For more details, please refer to the Thanatic Ethics project website.