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Beyond Humanitarianism

Kieran Tam

Calais, France


MPhil in Architecture and Urban Design (MAUD)


Migration, Informality, Geopolitics

Beyond Humanitarianism makes a case for the urgent adoption of an ethic of universal care in response to the current migrant humanitarian crisis unfolding in at the Anglo-French border. Using literatures on spatial and structural violence, this thesis interrogates the ways in which the border regime in northern France has engendered a state of everyday violence experienced by both the migrant communities and the local population. A minimalist humanitarian model has proven to be limited in its capacity to alleviate the suffering of migrants, whilst being vulnerable to appropriation by violent states and simultaneously risking the perpetuation of hegemonic power imbalances. Building on existing volunteer-migrant solidarity practices and literatures on ethical care, this thesis speculates on how an urban strategy based on universal care and a politics of presence could enable Calais to recover from decades of urban decline and embrace its inevitable role as a transit point for migrants.

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