Distancing Suffering: The Liminal Space of 'The Jungle'

Howarth, Anita and Ibrahim, Yasmin (2010) Distancing Suffering: The Liminal Space of 'The Jungle'. In: Liminal Landscapes: Re-mapping the Field; 1-2 July 2010, Liverpool John Moores University. (Unpublished)


The recent demolition and clearing of 'The Jungle' in Calais occupied by illegal immigrants (many of whom were children) sought to narrate the issues from a legal perspective of police efficiency. The authorities both in the UK and France defended their actions as justified in tackling a persistent problem that can only be resolved through brutal force. "The jungle' as a barbaric settlement amidst civilized societies juxtaposed the 'other' as uncouth and not belonging to the space of civility (hence warranting immediate decimation). The need to expel the other and 'demolish' 'the jungle' became a moral discourse of maintaining a civilized society amidst illegal invasion of economic immigrants. The discourse of the jungle and the narration of the story through socio-legal discourses sought to de-humanize the event depicting it as a transgression of legal boundaries alone. The obliteration of human suffering and displacement caused by migration is often subsumed by a moral discourse which seeks to serve order on a society where illegal immigration becomes a well constructed 'deviance discourse' of maintaining law and order whilst purging society of 'illegal others'. We argue that this moral discourse becomes a platform for narrating stories of immigration and becomes a tool to de-sensitize human suffering associated with immigration. In the process the issue of immigration becomes a liminal space between rationality and atavism in enlightened societies.

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