Ein Gespräch von Charles Heller mit Beppe Caccia und Sandro Mezzadra, beide Mitgründer von Mediterranea, wurde am 7. Juli im Viewpointmag veröffentlicht.
Aus der Einleitung:
The March 2018 general elections in Italy, and the ensuing institution of far-right leader Matteo Salvini as Minister of the Interior, sent a shock wave through Italian society that rippled across the Mediterranean as he radicalized the Mare Clausum policy. On June 10, 2018, Salvini announced the closure of Italian ports to the disembarkation of rescued migrants via a tweet, and forced a first NGO vessel, the Aquarius, to divert its path towards Spain.13 In the weeks and months that followed, the criminalization of rescue NGOs was further stepped up, in Italy as well as in Malta.14 After June 2018, NGO vessels were reduced to “an average of one vessel operating at any given time” off the coast of Libya, and the possibility of their complete expulsion seemed real.15 During Salvini’s term, the Mediterranean became increasingly a “battlefield,” with intense struggles surrounding every single boat seeking to cross the Mediterranean.16
It is in this context of “shock,” as Sandro Mezzadra describes it, and urgency to act, all the while taking stock of the limitations of existing nongovernmental rescue activities, that a new disobedient rescue operation, Mediterranea, was initiated by a left-leaning platform in Italy. Mediterranea has explicitly affirmed its very presence at sea, its monitoring and rescue activities, as acts of disobedience and opposition to the Italian government, and connected its operation at sea with social movements able to mobilize on firm land across Italy and beyond. In a phase of violent political backlash, Mediterranea has offered one of the most inspiring and effective political and practical interventions, not only holding its ground but regaining the initiative, and re-imagining “what a ship can do.”17
In October 2019, I sat down with Sandro Mezzadra – political theorist and activist, who has inspired several generations of thinkers and activists, including myself, and contributed to launching Mediterranea – and Beppe Caccia – veteran political organizer and coordinator of Mediterranea. One year after Mediterranea’s ship, the Mare Jonio, set sail on its first mission, we discussed the key orientations of the project, and assessed the project’s achievements and the challenges it faces. We first addressed the context for this new initiative, and why it appeared necessary to go beyond the standard “rescue NGO,” which had established itself as a new repertoire of non-governmental action since 2015. We then unpacked the thinking behind some of the key characteristics of the project: the hybrid political form of the platform; the question of the human as both a trope of humanitarian reason, but also a radical demand in the face of dehumanization; the connection between intervening at sea and across multiple scales on firm land; and finally the radical politics of the law enacted by Mediterranea that we could think of as a form of strategic transgression. Thinking through this political experiment was timely, since our conversation took place shortly after Salvini was ousted from the governing coalition in September 2019 and forced back into opposition. Our discussion then coincided with a moment of renegotiation of the relation between transgression and limits in which Mediterranea and others are forced to reposition their activities. The virtuoso political thinking of Sandro Mezzadra and Beppe Caccia, which should be read alongside a broader series of interventions by other Mediterranea members published in South Atlantic Quarterly, demonstrates clearly that (self-)critical thinking does not preclude political action, but provides the condition to sharpen it in the face of an ever-shifting context.18