Dr Evgenia Iliadou

Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Postdoc in Politics (University of Surrey), PhD in Social Policy and Criminology (The Open University), MA Gender Studies and Social Anthropology (University of the Aegean), BA Sociology (University of Crete)

Academic and research departments

Department of Politics, Centre for Britain and Europe.


Areas of specialism

Critical Migration and Border Studies; Refugee Crisis

Affiliations and memberships

International Political Science Association (IPSA)



Research interests


Iliadou, E., (2019) Safe Havens and Prison Islands: The Politics of Protection and Deterrence of Border Crossers on Lesvos Island, Graduate Journal of Social Science June 2019, Vol. 15, Issue 1, pp. 62–88.

In this paper I argue that the refugee crisis, in terms of discourse and sequence of events, has been deliberately misused by the EU policymakers in order to govern unwanted human mobility and to impose and legitimize brutal, obscene and violent politics, such as the EU-Turkey Statement, the Hotspot Approach and the geographical restriction rule. Based on ethnographic research I conducted on border crossers on Lesvos, I argue here that these obscene policies produce a Kafkaesque and suffocating context with enormous and devastating consequences upon border crossers’ lives. For the purposes of this paper, I will focus on 1) the refugee crisis discourse; 2) the immobilisation of border crossers on Lesvos, the Prison Island; and 3) the racial profiling and segregation of people into penal and bureaucratic “categories”: “vulnerable/ non-vulnerable” and “delinquents”. This is an unformatted version of the article, provided temporarily due to production problems. Page numbers are not final. Full PDFs will be uploaded soon.

Iliadou, E., (2021) “Violence Continuum”: Border Crossings, Deaths and Time in the Island of Lesvos. In: Bhatiah, M., Canning, V.,(eds), Stealing Time: Migration, Temporalities and State Violence, Palgrave Macmillan, pp 197-221.

Since the 1990s, Greece generally, and Lesvos island specifically, have been important gates for unauthorised border crossers who are fleeing violence, conflicts, wars and persecution. Since then, bodies of dead people have washed ashore - in whole or in parts - at the threshold of Europe. Although represented as new, random, unforeseen, unpreventable events and “tragic” accidents border deaths are the outcome of lethal political decisions, which have been enforced since the 1985 Schengen Agreement, and have greatly proliferated in the aftermath of the 2015 refugee reception crisis. This chapter focuses on the continuum of politics of closed borders and the human consequences of the thanatopolitical border regime upon the lives which are apprehended “unliveable” (Butler, 2004). It explores the continuum of border violence and deaths, which occur off the coasts of Lesvos - while people cross the Aegean Sea - as well as inside the refugee camps on Lesvos. This chapter also addresses the temporal continuum of violence and the state and policy facilitated stealing of border crossers’ time. It explores stealing time as a form of institutional and structural violence which is inflicted upon the living, the dead and whole communities by producing multiple forms of harm and/or new types of harm.

Iliadou, E. (2012) Spaces in Nowhere and Heterotopias. The Detention centre of Pagani on Lesvos Island as Heterotopias in Trubeta, S, (editor), The Refugee and Migration Issue, Border Crossing and Borders Studies, Papazisis Publications. (in Greek).
Gillespie, M., Ampofo, L., Cheesman, M., Faith, B., Iliadou, E., Issa, A., Osseiran, S., Skleparis, D., (2016) Research Report: Mapping Refugee Media Journeys Smartphone and Social Media Networks, The Open University/ France Médias Monde.

This paper is based on collaborative research into smartphone use among Syrian refugees using mixed and mobile methods. It identified a huge gap in the provision of relevant, reliable and timely news and information for refugees, forcing them to rely on unreliable sources circulating on social media, exposing them to even greater risks and dangers, and exacerbating an already dire Humanitarian crisis. The report was launched in conjunction with the BBC's World On the Move Day. It urges the European Commission to seize the initiative to put pressure on European member states and news organisations to fulfil their obligations under the UN Refugee Charter to provide vital and timely information for refugees - information that can sometimes make the difference between life and death. The EC is in a good position to facilitate a partnerships between Member States, news organisations, tech companies, NGOs and other stakeholders to orchestrate a co-ordinated, sustainable, up-to-date news and information strategy for refugees based on the recommended best practice principles identified in the report.

Iliadou, E., (2021) Border Harms and everyday violence: A European Perspective, Bristol University Press (to be completed 01 September 2021).
Iliadou, E., (2017) When Justice is (not) blind

COVID 19 quarantine practices are nothing new. Enforced, discriminatory treatment of refugee populations on the grounds of the protection of public health have a long history.

Since the outbreak of COVID 19 there has been increased criticism of various discriminatory quarantine policies and practices which have been enforced upon refugee populations living in camps in inhumane, appalling and degrading conditions. These COVID 19-related quarantine practices at borders are often presented as something new, responding to a particular crisis. However, discriminatory treatment of refugee populations on the grounds of the protection of public health is not at all new.

Iliadou, E., Exadaktylos, T. (2020) Graveyards of Human Rights: some thoughts on the refugee camps on Lesvos in light of the UNHCR’s 70th anniversary

Cases of sexual violence inside refugee camps are often presented as if they were tragic accidents, or natural and isolated events. However, sexual violence is endemic to refugee camps and it has escalated over time. Despite these facts, evidence and warnings, refugee populations are systematically abandoned into structurally harmful environments which not only allow, but also create the conditions for such atrocious acts of violence to take place.

Iliadou, E., (2021) The continuum of violence and death on the Greek island of Lesvos

Since early 2000, I worked as an NGO practitioner in refugee camps and detention centres by providing social support to forcibly displaced persons. I worked in many different sites of confinement in border zones in the Greek mainland and on the islands, notably in Lesvos. I was also actively involved in grassroots movements supporting refugees who were reaching Lesvos for more than a decade.

Those experiences were often shocking, traumatic, and life-changing as over time and through my different positionalities (a female researcher, former NGO worker, activist, local) I had the chance to witness first-hand the harmful and life-threatening conditions in which refugee populations were forced to live inside detention centres and refugee camps. The living conditions that refugee populations endured were appalling and tantamount to cruel, inhumane, and degrading.

Over time I heard and recorded several accounts and testimonies by refugees related to border violence, including torture, sexual violence, human trafficking, state violence, and pushbacks.

Iliadou, E., Exadaktylos., T (2020) Disaster Foretold: Refugees in Moria at risk after fires. What now, EU?

As much as the Greek state tries to present the fire and misery that unfolded as an unpredictable event and a state of emergency, this disaster was preventable, foreseeable and, therefore, foretold and avoidable. It is the outcome of a series of inadequate and patchy political decisions as well as the largely exclusionary, discriminatory and deterrent policies that have been implemented within and beyond the EU’s borders. And while the Greek government has frequently sounded the alarm at the EU-level, the wave of populism and the surge of the far-right across Europe in the past decade have largely closed the EU’s ears and eyes to the problems.

Iliadou, E., (2023) Necroharms: The normalisation and routinisation of social death in refugee camps on the Greek Island of Lesvos in Mortality Journal Special Issue: The New Normal? Marginalised Mortalities and Ordinary Deaths in Extraordinary Times

Iliadou, E., (2018) The externalisation and internalisation of the EU borders: the case study of Lesvos Island.

In the aftermath of the so-called "refugee crisis" and the implementation of the EU-Turkey Statement, refugees have indefinitely been trapped on Lesvos Island. Lesvos has been transformed into a "prison island" where racism, violence and xenophobia are gradually escalating. At the same time, acts of everyday solidarity and resistance take place on Lesbos, as an antidote to racism, fear and violence.

Iliadou, E. (2021) Places in Nowhere: Detention Centres, Police Departments and Pre-Removal Centres in Greece

In the aftermath of the 2015 “refugee crisis”, Greece attracted much attention due to the escalation of border violence and the infliction of harm against forcibly displaced people. Despite the new and increased attention on and documentation of border violence at sea and open refugee camps there is a relatively limited focus on the continuum of the implicit and routinised forms of violence against migrants inside police stations, pre-removal centres, and other detention facilities across Greece. Drawing on my first-hand, lived experiences as a female NGO practitioner, activist, and researcher for many years in border zones in Greece, in this self-reflexive blog I write about the violence continuum in sites of confinement. I argue that detention centres, police stations, and pre-removal centres are frequently inaccessible, isolated spaces and hidden from public view. In this respect most of them are places in nowhere. I will provide insights from the various sites of confinement I accessed in Greece as well as of the various forms of violence against refugees that I witnessed, but also experienced myself as a female practitioner in these sites across time. I argue that these places are harmful sites where violence is endemic and wherein even practitioners, like me who were supported by NGOs, can become vulnerable to state violence.

Iliadou, E., Exadaktylos, T., (2021) The state of international protection on Lesvos five years after the EU-Turkey Deal

Turkey has been criticised for systematically violating human rights, having a dysfunctional asylum system, using violence and degrading living conditions, and coercively expelling forcibly displaced people from Turkey back to war zones. This raises serious doubts about the legitimate inclusion of Turkey as a ‘safe country’. Despite being a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention, Turkey maintains the geographical limitation to the Convention only to people originating from Europe. This restricted application of the Convention contradicts the Procedures Directive for determining whether a particular state is a safe third country. There is considerable evidence, four years since the EU-Turkey Statement, that neither Greece nor Turkey can be classed as safe havens for forcibly displaced people

Iliadou, E. (2021) Quarantine Continuum: Medicalisation of borders and the securitisation of migration and health in Greece. In: Esposito, F., Caja, E., Mattiello, G., Migrant detention in Europe in times of Covid-19. SEB27, Turin.