Understanding Exclusion and Integration in European Camp Spaces

Lead Research Organisation: University of Sussex
Department Name: Sch of Global Studies


Over the last decade, encampment has become the central tenet of European migration governance. The
camp has become a significant site, both within the wider migration policy framework and within the
lived experience of migrants.
The camp is both a space of exclusion and a space of cultural interaction, playing a key role in the
integration process. Those living in in camp spaces are physically excluded from the communal 'We' of
the nation-state in which they reside, and of the wider 'We' of European citizens; the camp reifies and
maintains this distinction. However, to reduce camp space to a purely exclusionary device would be to
ignore the social reality of the camp. The camps, as primary spaces of cultural interaction between
people of European and non-European backgrounds, are spaces of change and transformation, in which
inhabitants undergo or undertake a process of 'reorientation' designed to facilitate their (future)
integration into European society. This study will therefore explore how the contradictory logics of
integration and exclusion are manifested, articulated and experienced in a camp setting.
Using qualitative methods (observations, conversation and semi-structured interviews with camp
inhabitants and other key actors), this study will identify the key actors present in the camp (NGOs,
state/EU institutions, grassroots projects), map the processes of integration and exclusion of which they
are a part and analyse the multiple subjectivities (refugee, victim, Other) that are produced among camp
This study will understand the camp as a contested 'distinctive political space produced out of the
relations between, and the practices of, people' (Ramadan 2013: 68) which in turn produces 'multiple
and ambiguous subjectivities' (Oesch 2017: 110) which are constantly reproduced over time. This notion
of 'produced' camp space allows for a degree of migrant agency (Collyer 2012) - camp inhabitants are
not merely passive bodies maintained as bare life, but active participants in the construction of camp
All aspects of camp life will be taken into account, from education projects to daily routines, from eating
arrangements to camp architecture and layout in an attempt to map the various 'fields' (Bourdieu 1984)
that constitute camp space. Education projects will be a key focus as they offer a prime example of
integration as re-orientation, in which camp inhabitants are taught 'European' social norms and values.
A second key component of the integration element of the study is investigating how the processes,
behaviours, norms and values typical of migrants' various countries of origin are manifested, reproduced,
altered or abandoned in the camp spaces, and how 'European' social norms and values are exhibited and
inculcated. This project does not view European and non-European cultures as singular, sealed-off,
diametrically opposed entities, but is instead informed by Said's comprehension of cultures as a fluid set
of behaviours and beliefs that are constantly reproduced, and cultural interaction as a process by which
cultures develop in relation to all others they come into contact with (Said 2001). The European camp
space will be analysed through a post-colonial lens, taking into account this wider historical context of
interaction and imbalanced knowledge production (Said 1978).
Two ethnographies will be conducted, one in Greece and one in Italy; they are both countries of first
arrival, transit countries and countries of final destination for migrants arriving from the Global South.
The purpose of conducting two case studies would be to allow sufficient scope to explore differences
between camps located in two EU member states, while comprehending encampment, and the
subsequent processes of integration/exclusion as part of a wider European strategy to manage migration.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
ES/P00072X/1 30/09/2017 29/09/2027
2112463 Studentship ES/P00072X/1 23/09/2018 30/05/2022 Alex Fusco