AAA/CASCA Executive Program Committee
Executive Session - Oral Presentation Session
Maple Razsa (Colby College)
In 2016 Ahmed H. was tried for terrorism in Hungary. A Syrian accompanying his elderly parents to Europe, Ahmed was detained following protests by hundreds of refugees against the abrupt closure of the Hungarian-Serbian border. Central to the prosecution’s case, which alleged that Ahmed led a crowd of refugees to attack the Hungarian state, were photos of him holding a megaphone amid the tense, and eventually violent, standoff between immobilized refugees and well-armed riot police. This trial could certainly be interpreted as a key episode in recent campaigns to criminalize human mobility. Ahmed’s conviction and eleven-year sentence do affirm the policies of the Orban regime, including its Trump-endorsed southern border wall. But the prosecution also offers an opportunity to ask questions central to this panel’s reconsideration of the politics of movements against borders, in both senses of the phrase. The events that came to be known as the “Röszke Riots” took place at the intersection of the multiple journeys of people on the move together with those who protested and demanded “open borders” when they found themselves immobilized. Drawing on years of fieldwork along the Balkan Route, we ask, who did Ahmed address with the megaphone? What kind of assemblies (Butler 2015; Hardt and Negri 2017) happened along the route and at Röszke? Who, in other words, is the collective subject of these movements? Do we have the conceptual tools, or the political imagination, to recognize this more plural political subject formed en route?