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Crimes of Peace
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Crimes of Peace
Mediterranean Migrations at the World's Deadliest Border

Maurizio Albahari

288 pages | 6 x 9 | 1 illus.
Paper 2016 | ISBN 9780812223828 | $27.50s | Outside the Americas £20.99
Ebook editions are available from selected online vendors
A volume in the series Pennsylvania Studies in Human Rights
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"Elegantly written, ethnographically and historically rich, Albahari's book poses new questions about national security and 'crimes of peace' and should be on the shelves of scholars studying state security, international migration, and human rights."—International Migration Review

"Indispensable. . . . [Albahari's] descriptive skill, his empathy with individual suffering, and his recognition of local acts of generosity are complemented by a disciplined attention to human rights, secular and Christian humanitarianism, maritime law, statecraft and transnational crime."—Times Literary Supplement

"Building on existential experience, Albahari presents a profound reflection, articulated with elegance, on sovereignty as the duty to rescue (salvation) and sovereignty as the anticipation of risks (preemption), and therefore as bureaucratic classification of migrants: an impossible sovereignty, he says, between governing with the saved and governing with the dead."—Cultures et Conflits

"Crimes of Peace is a valuable read for anyone interested in the very concept of Europe and of the rule of law. It powerfully addresses the uncomfortable question of how, between the state's monopoly of both violence and of rescue, European publics have as of yet abstained from, but could always start, to advance a sovereignty of responsibility."—CritCom: A Forum for Research and Commentary on Europe

"This is a remarkable book—an intellectual treat that is also a political statement, a complex but compelling ethnography of state indifference, and a tribute to the humanity of those few who saw fit to show it when the agents of the state preferred to turn their backs. Written with precision and passion, it moves through personal encounters, media reports, legal documents, and eyewitness accounts to piece together the collective criminality of a state—and, indeed, a superstate, the European Union—that should be held accountable for the thousands of deaths and infinite suffering that should never have occurred, the deaths and suffering of those trying to reach a European haven and found it instead to be a vast, racially motivated, and largely oblivious gated community."—Michael Herzfeld, Harvard University

Among the world's hotly contested, obsessively controlled, and often dangerous borders, none is deadlier than the Mediterranean Sea. Since 2000, at least 25,000 people have lost their lives attempting to reach Italy and the rest of Europe, most by drowning in the Mediterranean. Every day, unauthorized migrants and refugees bound for Europe put their lives in the hands of maritime smugglers, while fishermen, diplomats, priests, bureaucrats, armed forces sailors, and hesitant bystanders waver between indifference and intervention—with harrowing results.

In Crimes of Peace, Maurizio Albahari investigates why the Mediterranean Sea is the world's deadliest border, and what alternatives could improve this state of affairs. He also examines the dismal conditions of migrants in transit and the institutional framework in which they move or are physically confined. Drawing on his intimate knowledge of places, people, and European politics, Albahari supplements fieldwork in coastal southern Italy and neighboring Mediterranean locales with a meticulous documentary investigation, transforming abstract statistics into names and narratives that place the responsibility for the Mediterranean migration crisis in the very heart of liberal democracy. Global fault lines are scrutinized: between Europe, Africa, and the Middle East; military and humanitarian governance; detention and hospitality; transnational crime and statecraft; the universal law of the sea and the thresholds of a globalized yet parochial world. Crimes of Peace illuminates crucial questions of sovereignty and rights: for migrants trying to enter Europe along the Mediterranean shore, the answers are a matter of life or death.

Maurizio Albahari teaches anthropology at the University of Notre Dame.

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