Heath joined the COA faculty in 2011 following a postdoctoral appointment in the Hellenic Studies program at Princeton University. Her teaching engages a range of topics within anthropology as well as socio-cultural theory, law, ethics, advocacy and activism, and social science methodologies. Her areas of academic interest and expertise include migration, asylum, and humanitarian ethics in Greece and the European Union; the anthropology of organizations, NGOs, and cultures of advocacy; language, narrative, and translation; and urban memory. Heath was recently awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to conduct additional research in Greece during COA’s winter and spring terms of 2015.

On the Doorstep of Europe is based on twenty months of intensive ethnographic fieldwork in Greece and examines asylum seeking and legal aid practices in Athens. The following is an excerpt from the announcement from The University of Pennsylvania Press.

“Greece has shouldered a heavy burden in the global economic crisis, struggling with political and financial insecurity. Greece has also the most porous external border of the European Union, tasked with ensuring that the EU’s boundaries are both “secure and humanitarian” and hosting enormous numbers of migrants and asylum seekers who arrived by land and sea. The recent leadership and fiscal crises have led to a breakdown of legal entitlements for both Greek citizens and those seeking refuge within the country’s borders.

“ ‘Original, vividly written, and ethnographically rich, On the Doorstep of Europe breaks new ground as a contribution to the anthropology of law, globalization studies, and the ethnography of the eastern Mediterranean. In particular, it illuminates the increasingly complex dynamics of a country newly confronting cultural diversity and rapid urbanization.’ —Michael Herzfeld, Harvard University

“On the Doorstep of Europe is an ethnographic study of the asylum system in Greece, tracing the ways asylum seekers, bureaucrats, and service providers attempt to navigate the dilemmas of governance, ethics, knowledge, and sociability that emerge through this legal process. Centering on the work of an asylum advocacy NGO in Athens, Heath Cabot explores how workers and clients grapple with predicaments endemic to Europeanization and rights-based protection.

“Drawing inspiration from classical Greek tragedy to highlight both the transformative potential and the violence of law, Cabot charts the structural violence effected through European governance, rights frameworks, and humanitarian intervention while also exploring how Athenian society is being remade from the inside out. She shows how, in contemporary Greece, relationships between insiders and outsiders are radically reconfigured through legal, political, and economic crises. In addition to providing a textured, on-the-ground account of the fraught context of asylum and immigration in Europe’s borderlands, On the Doorstep of Europe highlights the unpredictable and transformative ways in which those in host nations navigate legal and political violence, even in contexts of inexorable duress and inequality.”

On the Doorstep of Europe is particularly timely, as the international community weighs what are sometimes seen as competing interests of rights and security and as asylum regimes are themselves threatened. Importantly, Heath Cabot’s work illustrates ways that protections can fall short in that the systems that are set up to ensure that persecuted individuals receive safe haven can become unworkable for the very individuals they are designed to serve.” —Susan Bibler Coutin, University of California, Irvine