Accepted paper:

The love of flowers: boats, time and the navigation of catastrophe in the Aegean


Nicolas Argenti (Brunel University)

Paper short abstract:

As the EU pays fishermen to scupper their boats, the last of the wooden fleet of the Aegean island of Chios is being destroyed. Mourning the loss of the boats he built in his youth, the island's last boatbuilder is haunted by the massacre of his ancestors in the catastrophe of Asia Minor.

Paper long abstract:

Following an EU programme to curb overfishing in the seas around Europe, skippers are being offered incentives to hand in their fishing licences and scupper their boats in return for generous payoffs. As a consequence, the last wooden boat builder in Chios is living out his final working days destroying the boats that he built in his youth together with his now deceased masters. A descendant of refugees from the Asia Minor Catastrophe of 1922, Takis remembers the loss of his home and his ancestors in the flight from Anatolia in the same breath that he speaks of the EU's 'barbarous' directive to destroy the last of the island's wooden fleet - itself a memory of the skills of the Asia Minor refugees who built the Chiot fleet in the century since their arrival on the island. This paper examines how an EU fisheries directive has triggered a crisis through which the loss of a wooden fleet and a body of practical knowledge merges with memories of displacement and violence two generations previously; the destruction of the sociality embodied in boat building recalling the forfeitures and sacrifices of the refugees in the flight from Asia Minor.

panel P23
Humanity at sea: hybridity and seafaring