Working Paper

Mutual aid in the Central Mediterranean: The responses of search and rescue NGOs to Italy’s and the EU’s governance of the border

Published 15 September 2021 / By Giovanni Penna

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This article analyses the actions of search and rescue (SAR) NGOs in the Central Mediterranean since 2014 and argues that a return to mutualistic conceptions of humanitarianism is taking place in the Mediterranean today. To do so, it develops analytically around the writings of Russian geographer Peter Kropotkin. The main finding of the study is that SAR NGOs exploit the cracks in Italy’s and the EU’s governance of the Central Mediterranean border through cooperation and emulation, proving the relevance of Kropotkin’s theories of mutual aid to today’s humanitarianism.

About the author: Giovanni Penna is an Oxford graduate of MSc Migration Studies, 2020-21 (St Antony’s College). He previously studied Geography at the University of Glasgow and the University of Toronto. Currently based in Brussels, Belgium, he is planning to launch his career in European affairs.


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