In the Fall 2017 semester, I will be teaching a new film course, In No Man’s Land: Walls, Migrations and Human Trafficking in the Balkans and Mediterranean, which deals with the issue of the migrant humanitarian crisis within the Balkans and the Mediterranean, the two routes through which most of the migrants and refugees arrive from the Middle East, Asia, and Sub Saharan Africa.
The course attempts to focus students’ attention to the unprecedented contemporary humanitarian tragedy of literally millions of people on the move, in pursuit of a better and safer life for themselves and their families. It takes issue with the extent to which the global audiences have been desensitized to the suffering of these people by frequently sensationalist, hostile, or even false political and media rhetoric, while acknowledging the fact that the arrival of large numbers of “foreigners” is always a worry to the local populations, sometimes with good reason. It likewise makes connections with several key instances of similar population movements in the past, some of which are, perhaps, the reason why some among us now see ourselves as “local population” in the U.S. and claim our right to citizenship and privilege.
The primary sources in this course are films that treat the highly contentious problem of migrations and refugee crisis in the Balkan and Mediterranean region in a complex and non-partisan way. They range from narratives about the man-made and natural obstacles and dangers that migrants face on their way, to the stories of their successful or failed integration within the fabric of the host nation and economy. Many of the films are deeply heartfelt narratives about human suffering, understanding, friendship and solidarity, although pervaded by tangible and ever present dangers, administrative obstacles and hostile politics.