Biogeopolitics of COVID-19: Asylum-Related Migrants at the European Union Borderlands

Tijdschr Econ Soc Geogr. 2020 Jul;111(3):260-274. doi: 10.1111/tesg.12448. Epub 2020 Jul 1.


In biogeopolitics, the key state stakeholders develop and aim to accomplish their geopolitical goals by (mis)management and biopolitical governance of vulnerable population. In this paper, this population refers to asylum-related migrants who use or aim to use an asylum request as their entry mechanism to the European Union. This paper explores the emergence of biogeopolitics at the EU borderland between Turkey and Greece during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Statistics about irregular migration from Turkey to Greece, field observations in Lesvos (Greece) as well as media and social media discussions about COVID-19 in Lesvos are analysed. In the biogeopolitics of COVID-19, the governance and (mis)management of asylum-related migrants include policies and practices to let these migrants to live or die, including regulating illegal border-crossings, everyday living conditions at the reception centres, and actions regarding the pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic was used as an additional tool to foster biogeopolitics.

Keywords: Biogeopolitics; COVID‐19; Greece; Turkey; asylum; migration.