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Cambridge Migration Society: Beyond the 'Jungle': Exploring the ephemerality of encampment in Calais

When May 15, 2019
from 12:00 PM to 01:00 PM
Where Alison Richard Building S2, West Rd Cambridge CB3 9DP
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Cambridge Migration Society is excited to present the second Graduate Migration Research Seminar of Easter Term 2019:

Beyond the 'Jungle': Exploring the ephemerality of encampment in Calais

Maria Hagan, PhD candidate, Department of Geography, University of Cambridge

Discussant: Dr Irit Katz, Department of Architecture, University of Cambridge


Abstract: Since the demolition of the notorious Calais ‘Jungle’ in October 2016, the French state has hardened its policies against informal encampments. A complex institutional system of official processing centres has been established, marking a shift towards greater securitisation and the violent policing of those living beyond the system. This is most visible in post-camp Calais, where several hundred displaced people have continued to settle at the border zone in scattered encampments which authorities systematically seek to destroy. Drawing on interview extracts, field notes, photographs and video extracts collected during six months of ethnographic fieldwork in Calais in 2017-2018, Maria will discuss the implications of this new form of governance. She will reveal how the displaced have altered their survival strategies in response to the hostile reality, laying claim to border spaces by tirelessly rebuilding shelter and weaving protective social relations and practices with one another and the humanitarians who assist them. Significantly, aid provision has been adapted and made mobile in response to ephemeral forms of encampment: humanitarians perform the criminalised displaced as deserving aid recipients while bearing witness to the escalation of violent policing practices. To work through this dynamic Maria proposes the concept of the ‘contingent camp’, which understands the camp as a contested process rather than a fixed place. It is a spatial manifestation of the encroachment of securitisation on the humanitarian in reaction to the displaced in France.