Frassanito - by any means necessary

this article on the frassanito-network was first published in the catalogue of the 'moving on' exhibition on migration that was shown in 2005 in berlin at the NGBK gallery

15.Jan.06 - A rumour goes around. The rumour of Frassanito. From Athens to Manchester, from Malaga to Gothenburg, from Ljubljana to Calais, Istanbul and Kiev, migration activists strive to locate its headquarters, google feverishly for its website, guess the chiliads of its members and break the code of its abbreviation. Frassanito is this time not a subversive-seeming abbreviation, but a small idyllic city in south Italian Apulia, where there was a border camp in the summer of 2003 where the now legendary Bari-Aktion took place. There activists broke into a deportation camp and created the conditions for the escape of some of the migrants incarcerated there. During the camp at first initiatives and individuals from Italy, France and Germany, later from Spain, Greece, Great Britain and Slovenia joined into a loose network to collectively strengthen and co-ordinate political initiatives based on migration in the European social fora. (2003 in Paris, 2004 in London) The "Frassanito Network" developed in such an ordinary way, between beach, ultra loud cicadas and the euphoria after the freedom action of Bari.

Network activism, registered in the promise of a common 'European social space' of movements, forms the interventionist point, which at the same time materialises from our situated point of departure. A point of departure from which we have in the past years (often independently of one another) posed the same questions, with the thesis of the 'Autonomy of migration' our angry termination with the metaphor of 'Fort Europe' as repressive cut-off machine to try to develop the European migration policy. For years 'Fort Europe' served migration activists not only as an obvious metaphor for the European policy of sealing off against migration in the world, but also functioned as a basis of political strategies. This logic placed not only the political events at the territorial borders of Schengen Europe, where in the past few years a series of border camps took place, it generated furthermore a specific political matrix, in which the act of border crossing itself stood in the centre of the political confrontations, but not the social, economic and political existence of several million migrants in Europe.

Instead of seeing migration as a problem and conceiving of migrants as victims, it concerns understanding migrations as social movements, to focus on their autonomies and offensive moments as well as to emphasise the lines of connection to other social battles. In this way it could be possible to consider the different conditions of departure in Europe and to found a common procedure based on more than good intentions. On the level of mobilisation and activism, the rumour has become an echo: in 2004 the first Europe-wide action day was mobilised. The 2nd Day of Action on the 2nd of April 2005 brought noborder-activists, migrant communities and refugee organisation together across Europe. Under the motto "Freedom of Movement. Right to stay!" migration action initiatives mobilised smaller and larger actions, from Ragusa to Barcelona, from Maribor to London, from Bahnsdorf to Paris, in more than 100 cities right across Europe. In Athens thousands, mostly migrants, took part in the demonstration and so created the best conditions for an intervention by the Frassanito network at the next ESF, in the coming spring in Athens.

Europe of Migration

The Schengen borders, Europol and other European migration control authorities, although they offer a seemingly uniform area of attack, hide the fact that in Europe there is an inconcurrence of migration. The new immigration and transit countries of the south differ from the countries one may call classic (in the European context) such as Germany, again in contrast to Britain where work migration is embedded in the structures of colonialism and is organised within them. Out of this completely different lines of conflict and forms of battle around migration develop. In countries such as Greece 'camps' for migrants are rather omnifunctional institutions of migration control, which belong to the everyday life of every migrant, whilst in Germany only a small section represent this everyday experience. In France there are groups who see racism against migrants as postcolonial suppression, whilst activists, let's say from Scandinavia would not place this connection in the foreground. The demand for legalisation of the 'Sans Papiers' has a different history each time all over Europe. Sometimes it is part of a successful mobilisation, sometimes only an administrative action to register the undocumented work. Even these few examples document the difficulties of a common European practice for a left-wing policy in the area of migration.

Yet migrations and their battles produce their own, other European space, on a daily level, a Europe of migration. Frassanito stands for the attempt not to interpret, but to articulate politically. Out of necessity this is connected to a cartography of European political space. It concerns an act of knowledge production which is both an epistemological breach and a political change of perspective, unified in a militant investigation of migration in Europe. Militant investigation does not only mean taking the side of the migrants, by any means necessary! It deals with taking on the perspective of migration, because it is a movement which questions the current state of affairs (the state, borders, cultures, languages and ways of subjectification). One should not confuse this with romanticising the concrete practices of migration. These are often corrupt and brutal. But in the shadow of this corruption people achieve moments of autonomy. Our gaze falls on this in our investigation of migrations whose movements undermine the national framework. Therefore migration cannot be represented as politically ordinary or be seen in traditional concepts of social battles. The end of a whole epoch of policy is indicated here. The end of the national socialist state as the end of the space-time matrix of representation or the linear development.

Our emphasis lies with migrations 'movements', because 'autonomies of migration' are based on the constitutional conditions within capitalist production and the social domination process, but do not make one subject into a foundation. In this way one may make a connection between the debates on precarisation and the tendentially paradigmatic of migrant work. The specific in relationship between precarisation and migration exists in the control of the overreaching moment of mobility, its autonomy.

Frassanito Goes Euromayday

The various grades of citizenship in Europe influence employment market policy, in that they make differentiated forms of exploitation possible. Precisely the involvement of the citizenry in work or a work permit produces less the effect of a migration tax, than that of a tendential illegalisation of the most mobile and mobilised workforces of Europe. The conditions of migration meet arrangements in precarity, which means that migrants for example sometimes prefer the informality of the workplace to 'housework' in the home. They live under precarious employment conditions, use tricks and gaps in the control of migration movements. Where people are exploited and so subjectivised, there are also forms of resistance, which open ways to escape each concrete example of exploitation. Political discourses, which in the end aim to safeguard the achievements fought for in the factory and their state, lead to a defensive position. Social and political rights may no longer or not only be supported where we are attacked, in the family, in the business, whilst flat-hunting, in the sweat-shop...rather they must be dispossessed in the co-operative in between forms, which are already appropriated by the capital. Especially in precarious times of debordered work what counts is to temporarily suspend the submission under the compulsion to work. We stand before the challenge to find the moments of resistance within the current new composition of 'living work'. It concerns localising lines of conflict in precarious life and work conditions, 'zones of continued intensity' and to designate these as lines of escape from a project, which has a mobilising effect.

This new invention of policy applies to the whole space of social movements in Europe to unfold. With this starting point Frassanito took part in Euromayday 2005. The variety of perspectives, networks and orientation is maybe suited to confusing the hardenings and polarizations in the debates: we are no longer tortured by the search for the 'central subject' of social change. We propose rather to act from the new composition of living work and migration in Europe in its entirety and variety. For this we need self-determined co-operations who advance against the only thing which guarantees capitalism, exploitation the misery of paid labour, suppression and the racist migration regime.

Serhat Karakayali, Sandro Mezzadra, Vassilis Tsianos, Manuela Bojadzijev, Thomas Atzert

Comp. the paper Movements of Migration, which was produced on the occasion of the European Social Forum in London 2004.