The Mediterranean Sea has been named „maritime cemetery“ by activists and critical migration scholars since 2000. Only after two deadly shipwrecks near the island of Lampedusa (Italy)  on 3 and 11 October 2013, causing the deaths of 636 and positioning the Mediterranean as the focal point of „practice of ‘counting the dead’ that has been at the core of databases set up by human rights groups, migration agencies and NGOs“ (Tazzioli 2015: 2). According to Martina Tazzioli, „the disappearance of so many migrants challenges the image of the Mediterranean as a ‘transparent’ sea, bringing to the fore the patchy visibility that is at play and the presence of shadow zones. In this regard, border deaths are the unavoidable outcome – and not the unintended or the side effect – of the visa regime that instantiates asymmetries in the functioning and effects of borders“ (Tazzioli 2015: 5).

Literature: 

Tazzioli, Martina. 2015. „The Politics of Counting and the Scene of Rescue. Border deaths in the Mediterranean“. Radical Philosophy 192