Migrant support volunteer tourism in border-islands


Giovanna Di Matteo


We are living in the age of mobility, with people, objects, data, increasingly more mobile than ever before. The system we know as “Fortress Europe” is founded upon this mobility. Conceived of in accordance with neoliberal economic principles, the Schengen areas supports freedom of internal movement within the European Union, with the aim of strengthening the external borders of the EU. However, the Dublin Convention placed the “burden” of dealing with people arriving from outside the EU on a small number of countries. The Mediterranean islands of Lampedusa and Lesvos are emblematic of the consequences of this system, having come to symbolise the European “migrant crisis”. Their situation results from their strategic geographical positions, but also reflects more complex processes that have transformed them into borderscapes.
This book originated from the notion that tourism and human migration are among the greatest manifestations of contemporary human (im)mobility in a globalised world, and both have a direct relationship to matters of justice and power. Thus, the phenomenon of “migrant support volunteer tourism” is recognised herein as one of the previously underexplored possible intersections connecting the fields of tourism and migration studies. Within these pages, the traditional analysis of volunteer tourism, which generally interrogates those spaces in which volunteers work, is challenged, and the mobile aspect of volunteer tourism and what falls outside of the volunteering spaces considered.
The book aims to understand how and why the phenomenon of migrant support volunteer tourism has developed on these two islands, and how volunteer tourists co-construct the borderscaping of Lampedusa and Lesvos by examining their representations of the islands, and how their spatial practices and lived experiences, tactics and forms of resistance to Fortress Europe manifest.


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Author Biography

Giovanna Di Matteo

Holds an inter-university Ph.D. in Geography obtained from the University of Padova and Ca’ Foscari University of Venice. She is currently a research fellow at the University of Padova. Her research activity to date encompasses the Geography of Tourism and Critical Tourism Studies. Her additional research interests include Migration Studies, Mobility Studies, Heritage Studies and Landscape Studies.


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March 16, 2023

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