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.
This comprehensive account of the life and death of Europe’s most infamous camp for migrants and refugees demonstrates that, far from being an isolated case, the Jungle of Calais brings into sharp relief the issues that confront us all today, in a world where the large-scale movement of people has become, and is likely to remain, a central feature of social and political life.