Counter-mapping citizenship
: bordering through domicide in Calais, France

  • Travis Van Isacker

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    This thesis analyses how anti-migrant domicide functions as a technology of citizenship in Calais, France. Evictions, destructions, and securitisations exclude 'non-citizen' migrants from this border city, defining those allowed to exist within it as citizens by contrast. They also destroy the physical infrastructures, social communities, and political solidarities facilitating migrants' irregular journeys to the UK. Thus, the erasure of irregular migrants' autonomous home-spaces reproduces citizenship while reasserting it as the determinant of who can freely exist in, or move beyond, Calais.

    However, anti-migrant domicide also produces unconventional citizenships beyond nationality or status. The thesis analyses two examples—environmental and humanitarian citizenship—to show how citizen communities in Calais can reconfigure themselves around alternative, nominally more inclusive, sets of values while continuing to exclude irregular migrants. In these cases citizens define themselves either against migrants who are perceived as failing to fulfil citizenship's substantive criteria, or through migrants who are the object of citizen-defining humanitarian or environmentalist performances. While not immediately excluded by their status, migrants remain 'non-citizens' because of their racialisation in Calais' racist environment and how this has been compounded by the effects of domicide against them.

    Counter-mapping in this project takes three different forms: cartographic, presenting a map of domicide between 2009-19; narrative, elaborating descriptions of select case studies in Calais' anti-migrant domicidal history; and conceptual, demonstrating how citizenship is produced by these exclusionary spatial interventions. These three modes are combined to map how migrants' spatial exclusion from Calais' 'spaces of citizenship' and their socio-political exclusion reciprocally reinforce one-another.

    While countering progressive conceptions of citizenship by showing how all citizenship forms analysed in Calais are constituted through migrants' exclusion, the thesis raises questions for the continued invocation of citizenship politics in scholarly analyses of resistance to the border regime. It also argues for the need to (re)create spaces of anti-citizenship as part of struggles for free movement for all. These spaces prefigure coalitional relations beyond citizenship categories, and provide toe-holds from which to resist their institutionalisation in bordering technologies.
    Date of AwardOct 2020
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • University of Brighton
    SupervisorRaphael Schlembach (Supervisor), Deanna Dadusc (Supervisor) & Dr Aidan McGarry (Supervisor)

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