The chapter gives an overview of the topic and issues treated in the book. Three main arguments are presented. First, the dynamics of the refugee events of 2015 reflect the degree of globalization and transnationalization of social relations. In Syria as well as in Europe the global is becoming local and the local is becoming global. Transnational social relations are becoming more and more important. Second, since the 1990s a European refugee regime has been being developed, but its (nice) provisions for refugee protection almost collapsed in face of the organized non-responsibility of EU member states. Third, the networks of refugee- and asylum-oriented organizations and elements of a related transnational social movement compensated the ‘organized non-responsibility’ of national governments.
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This chapter examines the tangled question of continuity and change from the point of view of the observance of mobility. The diverse changes in Mediterranean mobility since the upheavals of January 2011 constitute a topic worthy of particular attention. However, an effort has to be made to comprehend the transformed understandings of continuity and change, which are sometimes found in sharp opposition to each other but which also find connections and relations between each other. This work brings at least five different questions together in dialogue: (1) the use of categories. Can the terms ‘refugee’ and ‘irregular migrant’ continue to be used as they were in the past? Globalization studies have suggested new challenges regarding the blurring of such categories. Agamben (1995) has also worked on differentiating the classic idea of the refugee from the question of human rights; (2) forms of continuity. Authors like de Hass and Sigona (2012) talk about a continuity: ‘it is rather unlikely that the revolutions will dramatically change long-term migration patterns’; (3) challenging borders. Authors working on EU borders have identified a rupture in how the Arab Spring has forced the regulation parameters of the EU’s internal borders to change (see, for example, the various programmes in Italy after the Tunisian upheaval); (4) forms of cross-border circulation. Authors working on the Syrian humanitarian crisis have shown how cross-border circulation enhances new humanitarian structure models, especially concerning Turkish borders; and (5) re-scaling. Do cities like Istanbul conform to the kaleidoscope of these post-2011 changes and continuities?