Redefining humanitarianism in the making grassroots/volunteer organizations in Samos (Greece)


The "European Refugee Crisis" witnessed European states adopting specific policies aimed at securitising and externalising of the bordering of migration. One of their main consequences resulted in the creation of "hotspots" where living conditions and rights of "people on the move" quickly started to deteriorate. As a result, civilian movements, and later on grassroots/volunteer organisations which are the focus of this paper, stepped into the humanitarian void left by states and traditional actors and soon reshaped the way humanitarianism was understood and practised. Drawing on the work done in the field of critical humanitarian studies and building on interviews and active participation during six weeks of fieldwork, this paper argues that looking at the humanitarian practices of such organisations in the specific context of the Samos hotspot (Greece), allows us to go beyond some of the structural and underlying flaws of traditional humanitarianism and to redefine it.