The Case of Leros


The island of Leros in the Greek Dodecanese consists of a unique case study into the history of securitisation and control of the Mediterranean, an entire ecosystem defined by exile, detainment and violent processes of subjectification within which architecture plays a fundamental role.

For centuries the island had been used for military operations under various regimes, with its strategic location and natural/geographical elements defining its highly traumatic and politicised existence. The project is mainly focused on the last century of Leros’ history, starting from the Italian occupation of the Dodecanese and concluding in the present. The project presents an archive that follows the transformation of the civic and military infrastructure built by the Italian fascist administration of Leros in the 1920s and 30s, to notorious mental health care facilities and camps for political prisoners and violently displaced children from mainland Greece, to detention centres for refugees today.

In the confluence of Africa, Europe and Asia, the Mediterranean is identified as the paradigmatic space for such investigation. A highly contested site and area of conflict since antiquity, interweaved in the imaginary and the praxis of power and territorial domination, the Mediterranean Sea today has become possibly the most securitized and militarized zone on earth. Within this context, islands performed as agents of segregation and dominance, with their geographic specificities, natural characteristics and strategic location constructing the platform upon which architecture cannot be separated from geopolitical and biopolitical management.