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The Jungle. Calais’s Camps and Migrants

Michel Agier | Translated by David Fernbach

For nearly two decades, the area surrounding the French port of Calais has been a temporary staging post for thousands of migrants and refugees hoping to cross the channel to Britain. It achieved global attention when, at the height of the migrant crisis in 2015, all those living there were transferred to a single camp that became known as ‘the Jungle’. Until its dismantling in October 2016, this precarious site, intended to make its inhabitants as invisible as possible, was instead the focal point of international concern about the plight of migrants and refugees.

This new book is the first full account of life inside the Jungle and its relation to the global migration crisis. Anthropologist Michel Agier and his colleagues use the particular circumstances of the Jungle, localized in space and time, to analyse broader changes underway in our societies, both locally and globally. Starting from the camp’s architecture, the authors describe the transformation of its spaces into an embryonic shantytown, encouraging a wider reflection on urbanism in the context of increasingly mobile populations. They investigate how everyday life and routine operated in the Jungle, raising broader questions about how marginalised communities are perceived and represented. Finally, addressing the mixed reactions to the camp - from hostile government policies to movements of solidarity - the authors show our relationship with the Other as part of a wider struggle in the formation of local, national and transnational identities.


Michel Agier is Senior Researcher at the French Institute of Research for Development (IRD) and Professor at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS), Paris, France. He is a leading authority on migration and refugees and his previous books in English include Borderlands, Managing the Undesirables and On the Margins of the World.

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