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Open Access Between Bare Life and Everyday Life: Spatializing Europe's Migrant Camps

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The migrant and refugee camps that proliferated in Europe over recent years reflect extreme, if not bipolar, architectural conditions. While fenced carceral camps with prefabricated units were created top-down by state and municipal authorities, informal makeshift camps of tents and self-made shelters were formed bottom-up along Europe's migration routes. These contrasting spatial typologies often appear side by side in the open landscapes of rural fields, in urban landscapes at the heart or in the fringes of cities, and in the architectural landscapes of abandoned institutions and facilities such as factories, prisons, airports, and military barracks. The different ways in which camps are created, function, and are managed by multiple and changing actors and sovereignties, substantially influence the form of these spaces. So far, however, the radically different spatial typologies of the camp and the intersections between them have not been comparatively analysed. Based on empirical studies of the recently created migrant camps in Europe, this paper sets out to investigate their various configurations, what they reflect, and how they correspond with the culture and politics that shape them. While this paper mainly focuses on three particular camps in northern France Рthe container camp in Calais, the makeshift camp in Calais known as the "Jungle," and La Lini̬re camp in Grande-Synthe Рit offers observations and analytical strategies relevant to camp spaces in other spaces and contexts and to camp studies more broadly.

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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: October 1, 2017

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  • Architecture_MPS is the academic journal of the research group AMPS (Architecture, Media, Politics, Society). It addresses the growing interest in the social and political interpretation of the built environment from a multi-disciplinary perspective. It engages with architecture, urbanism, planning, sociology, economics, cultural studies, visual culture, new medias and technologies. It draws on experts who bring emerging issues of international importance to the reader. Its publications are linked with a wide range of research programmes and conferences to further raise awareness of the social importance of architecture.

    This is an Open Access journal, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (CC BY). This licence permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. For more information see:

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