Association for Political and Legal Anthropology
Oral Presentation Session
On October 25, 2016, French anti-riot police forces evicted thousands of migrants that had settled in an abandoned landfill adjacent to the port of Calais. Hundreds of makeshift houses and tents of the so-called “Calais jungle” were bulldozed or burned while the police forced migrants to board buses that would bring them in asylum centers scattered in the French countryside. In the meantime, British authorities started the construction of the “Great Wall”, a one-kilometer long and four-meter high anti-intrusion barrier alongside the highway that leads to the port of Calais. This paper focuses on the infrastructure, technologies and security apparatuses deployed against people fleeing conflicts in the Balkans and Africa since 1999.These people try to cross the English Channel by any means from Calais. The ever-increasing surveillance and anti-intrusion technologies along with the brutal repression of migrants and their allies only impede the formation of visible migration nodes but do not deter migrants from coming to northern France. Financed by public funds from France and the U.K., private corporations design and build these infrastructures while engaging in the radicalization of anti-immigrant discourses and lobbying for policy measures that make the possibility of establishing deathscapes in coastal Europe possible. The paper explores the failed attempts to reduce migration through security assemblages, interrogates the relations between states, corporations and hardening of borders, and tracks the diffuse yet persistent presence of migrants who are hiding in and around Calais in hope to rebuild their lives in the U.K.