Our introductory article to the Special Issue we convened in Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, on “Governing Hotspots”. SI co-edited with Anna Papoutsi, Evie Papada and Joe Painter.

The European Commission’s (EC) choice of the term ‘hotspot’ for the block’s policy response to the 2015 border crisis is revealing. In its general use, the word refers either to an area or position of heightened risk or danger, or to a point on a surface that is of higher temperature than its surroundings. In geology, the term refers to places on the earth’s surface where a plume of hot rock in the mantle gives rise to volcanic eruptions. Whether deliberate or not, the use of the word in relation to the management of migration and borders appears to trade on a combination of these ideas and, by implication, a hotspot is a site of both unusual danger and uncontrollable pressure. Quite tellingly, the EC document announcing the hotspot approach never explains or defines the ‘hotspot’ itself. It is only in the implementation of the hotspot approach that islands and even regions are defined as ‘hotspot areas’ – a striking example of a governmental technology creating the object which it intends to govern.
Full draft at academia.edu