Space Construction in Media Reporting A study of the migrant space in the ‘jungles’ of Calais
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In September 2009, French riot police armed with flame-throwers, bulldozers and chain saws demolished an illegal migrant camp in Calais known locally as “the Jungle” and dispersed its occupants (Garnham 2009). Over two years the camp had grown from a handful of occupants in a few makeshift tents to over 800 in a sprawling shantytown spilling into the town of Calais (Rawstorne 2009). This article explores how British newspapers‟ use of the “jungle” metaphor constructed a particular social imaginary of migrant spaces and their informal camps at a time when migrant shelters were a focus of policy and public concern. The jungle metaphor signified a barbaric space characterised by environmental degradation and lawlessness that encroached on ordered spaces of white civility. This construct was used to justify the razing of the camp, the demolition of the shelters and the dispersing of its occupants by the French police. However, mini-camps sprung up almost immediately all along the French coastline (Allen 2009c) and newspapers expressed fears of the local community that these could grow into mini-jungles (Allen 2009b) – a fear realised a year later with the emergence and demolition of the “new jungle” in a small village near Dunkirk (Finan and Allen 2010) which was similarly demolished.
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