The World is Your Oyster

It’s been like a dream come true. Since the signing of the Amsterdam Treaty in 1997, 400 million citizens of Schengen-area states have been able to travel largely ID-free, inside the area’s borders. Though subject to periodic controls (such as those imposed in 2011 by France and Denmark) their elimination has also been a boon to refugees, who frequently have to travel to several countries before being granted asylum.

So much so that it has also brought with it periodic demands to restore national boundaries, to stem the flood of outsiders, by anxious Europeans, and populist politicians seeking scapegoats for social ills. French President Nicolas Sarkozy is one such example, repeatedly criticizing the lack of border checks, and issuing calls for an amendment to the Schengen agreement, to end the era of passport-free travel. Fortunately, most Europeans (including many center-right Sarkozy voters) disagree with him.

For the last thirteen years, anti-racist and pro-refugee activists have held annual No Border camps, in order to protest the criminalization and deportation of migrants. This sticker, for a 2009 camp on the Greek island of Lesbos, was taped to the insider of a door on Skalitzer Straße, in Berlin’s highly multiethnic Kreuzberg district. Particularly well-known for its Middle Eastern community, the presence of leftist stickers such as this, in the capital city of reunited Germany, should come as no surprise.

Note the Chinese Cultural Revolution-looking children’s illustration, and the 1950s-style cruise ship portrait. It’s a thought-provoking study in contrasts and cultures. For such a serious and contentious topic, the humor is refreshing.

Photograph courtesy of Joel Schalit

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