1st Edition

Calais and its Border Politics From Control to Demolition

By Yasmin Ibrahim, Anita Howarth Copyright 2018
    120 Pages 12 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    130 Pages 12 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Calais has a long history of transient refugee settlements and is often narrated through the endeavour to ‘sanitize’ it by both the English and the French in their policy and media discourses. Calais and its Border Politics encapsulates the border politics of Calais as an entry port through the refugee settlements known as the ‘Jungle’. By deconstructing how the jungle is a constant threat to the civilisation and sanity of Calais, the book traces the story of the jungle, both its revival and destruction as a recurrent narrative through the context of border politics. The book approaches Calais historically and through the key concept of the camp or the ‘jungle’ - a metaphor that becomes crucial to the inhuman approach to the settlement and in the justifications to destroy it continuously. The demolition and rebuilding of Calais also emphasises the denigration of humanity in the border sites.

    The authors offer a comprehensive insight into the making and unmaking of one of Europe’s long-standing refugee camps. The book explores the history of refugee camps in Calais and provides an insight into its representation and governance over time. The book provides an interdisciplinary perspective, employing concepts of space making, human form and corporeality, as well as modes of representation of the ‘Other’ to narrate the story of Calais as a border space through time, up to its recent representations in the media.   

    This book’s exploration of the representation and governance of the contentious Calais camps will be an invaluable resource to students and scholars of forced migration, border politics, displacement, refugee crisis, camps and human trauma.

    List of Illustrations


    Chapter 1: Calais in Constant Crossroads

    Chapter 2: The Camp and the 'Jungle'

    Chapter 3: Turning the Refugee into the Unwanted Migrant

    Chapter 4: The Visualizing of Calais

    Chapter 5: The ‘Lone Child’ in Calais: From Invisibility to the Dubs Amendment

    Chapter 6: Calais and the Politics of Erasure: Demolition, Flight and Return

    Appendix: Timeline – From Sangatte to the Jungles of Calais (1999–2016)


    Yasmin Ibrahim is a Reader in Communications at Queen Mary, University of London, UK.

    Anita Howarth is a Senior Lecturer in Journalism, Brunel University, UK.

    "In Britain’s media, ‘Calais’ has become a synecdoche for the influx of refugees into western Europe, and for governmental efforts to control the flow.  Hostile and not infrequently racist press coverage of those stranded at the French port as they attempt to travel to England has attracted widespread condemnation from many quarters, including the United Nations, and Anita Howarth and Yasmin Ibrahim perform a valuable service simply by revealing to those who don’t read papers such as the Express and Mail the horrors contained within their pages. However, this book is much more than a critique of hateful press coverage of refugees, and is concerned to put the events being played out at Calais into their full context – namely the history of migrant and refugee politics in Western Europe, and in Britain in particular. In so doing, they demonstrate all too clearly that Britain’s self-image as a centuries-old safe haven for refugees is largely myth and delusion. But they also undertake a fascinating spatial/cultural analysis of the representation of the refugee camps at Calais as ‘jungles’, showing how such a term, with all its connotations of foreignness and danger, helps to produce an understanding of these places’ inhabitants as irredeemably other, and not worthy of even our pity, let alone our assistance.  This is an extremely sobering read, which not only throws into sharp relief the cruelty and inhumanity of the UK’s immigration policies, but also raises much wider questions about the efficacy of those much-vaunted ‘European values’ that we hear so much about." -- Julian Petley, Professor of Journalism, Brunel University London, UK