Giving Birth at Europe’s Door

By Vanessa Grotti

I did not expect a project on birth and pregnant crossings in EU borderlands to make me think about death and mourning so much. Yet now they seem so intimately connected I wonder how it could have ever been otherwise. I find myself increasingly dividing my time between visits to cemeteries and maternity wards, as if I needed both to better understand my field research. Birth and death are not just complementary, they feed and sustain the cycle of intimate and collective life in peripheral borderlands located at the receiving end of an increasingly dangerous and unpredictable migration trail into Europe: the central Mediterranean route. These two major life events also encapsulate local attachment to kinship and to the land through networks of belonging and remembrance that neatly organize life into daily duties and conventions.

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