In-visible and in-audible: performing citizenship through the senses in the wake of political violence

Lead Research Organisation: University of Exeter
Department Name: Sociology, Philosophy, Anthropology


My project focuses on the current refugee crisis in Calais, answering the following question; what are the reasons for the police violence that has been, and continues to be, directed towards refugees in Calais? I will consider the impact of this violence, such as human rights and mental health implications, and how state violence against refugees could be reduced.

There have been refugee camps in and around Calais for two decades, and although the 'Jungle' was destroyed in 2016, there remains some several hundred refugees in the area. These refugees have faced, and are facing, violence and intimidation from the French CRS Police in Calais; this has been well-documented and I witnessed it first hand as an undergraduate when researching and volunteering as part of my dissertation.

Despite this violence not being a recent phenomenon, there is very limited understanding as to why the violence occurs and what this means for human rights research. My project will answer four sub-questions to address this: 1) Is the violence necropolitical? 2) Which political relationships shape the CRS Police? 3) Is there a politics of fear? 4) What does the violence mean for the refugees?
I am of the belief that there will be no single answer to explain the violence. There is a complex socio-political environment both locally and globally surrounding refugees and immigration, and this project aims to unpick and understand the various factors surrounding the situation in Calais. We live in a world where populism and right-wing beliefs are becoming more prevalent in our politics and societies, whilst media reinforces fear of the unknown and fear of 'migrants'. These are some possible factors to consider when understanding how the state violence is 'permitted.'

This project will involve undertaking overseas fieldwork. I will be liaising with organisations in Calais, such as 'Care 4 Calais' and 'Calais Migrant Solidarity' and volunteering with them whilst gaining fieldwork data. I am proposing a minimum of one week every other month in Calais during the first and second year of my PhD, ensuring a minimum of 12 weeks spent in Calais itself. The situation in Calais changes frequently so fieldwork taking place over this longer period will allow me to capture this constantly changing picture.

I also would benefit from difficult language training. Learning Arabic, the dominant language spoken by refugees in Calais, would allow me to engage better with them in conversation and support. I propose a ten-week intensive course during the first term of my PhD, taking place at the University of Exeter.

This will be a critical piece of research for human rights and security, whilst also benefitting the field of socio-politics. This project could have a wide impact academically and within NGO and government circles, and gain the refugees more attention required to have their human rights better protected. This is an issue which cannot be ignored, nor the impact of it denied, any longer.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
ES/P000630/1 01/10/2017 30/09/2027
2096896 Studentship ES/P000630/1 01/10/2018 13/04/2023 Georgina Harley Lewis