Archives of border crossing: Crafting emotional proximity and distance on the walls of Athens

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This article explores the political messaging present on the walls and street furniture of the city of Athens in the context of displacement, border crossing and asylum seeking. It engages with photographs of graffiti, posters, and stencils, taken by the authors between 2017 and 2022, to demonstrate how ‘banal’ artefacts tell stories of the changing relationship between the city and seekers of sanctuary. We examine what roles graffiti might play in creating and supporting emotional proximity between groups of city dwellers, whose paths might not necessarily cross. Taking inspiration from Tazzioli’s notion of the ‘ethnography of vanishing spaces’ (Tazzioli 2020: 150) the article maps the memories and histories of transient lives in Athens and how changing political responses and narratives can be read on its walls.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)226-254
Number of pages29
JournalJournal of International Relations and Development
Issue number2
Early online date24 Apr 2024
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2024

Bibliographical note

Copyright © Springer Nature Limited, 2024. This version of the article has been accepted for publication, after peer review and is subject to Springer Nature’s AM terms of use [], but is not the Version of Record and does not reflect post-acceptance improvements, or any corrections. The Version of Record is available online at:


  • Athens
  • Displacement
  • Emotions
  • Graffiti
  • Solidarity
  • Squatting


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