Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-7635

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Migrants in the Old Train Wagons Borderland in Thessaloniki: From Abandonment to Infrastructures of Commοning

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Abstract:  The article examines the living and infrastructuring practices of homeless newcomer migrants who find shelter in abandoned train wagons in the west end of Thessaloniki, an area described as “one of the biggest train cemeteries in Europe.” Hundreds of train wagons have been abandoned there over the years, especially after the 2010 financial crisis, when the state-owned railway company was faced with significant financial difficulties. These abandoned wagons form an urban borderland and have provided temporary shelter to numerous homeless and unregistered migrants who stop in Thessaloniki on their route to Central and Northern Europe. Although there is a significant number of studies which discuss the formal infrastructures provided by the state and the NGOs, little attention has been given to the various ways by which homeless and unregistered migrants create and self-manage their own infrastructures to meet their needs. The article aims to shed light on this shortage while examining the (re)production of arrival infrastructures by the migrants themselves. In doing so, the article builds upon the concept of abandonment and attempts to enrich it by drawing on the theories of arrival infrastructures and urban commons. It combines spatial analysis and urban ethnography in order to explore how an urban borderland with abandoned infrastructures, like the train wagons, are re-used and transformed into commoning infrastructures, where newcomers and settled migrants join their forces in their attempt to support each other, meet their needs and of “becoming otherwise.”

Keywords:  abandonment; arrival infrastructures; borderland; commoning; homeless people; infrastructures; migrants; shelter; Thessaloniki

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/up.6967


© Charalampos Tsavdaroglou, Paschalis Arvanitidis, Zacharias Valiantzas. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.