In the northern districts of Paris, many thousands of asylum-seekers and other migrants live in provisional encampments, over 75 of which have been dismantled since 2015. These encampments and the violent processes by which they are repeatedly evacuated and destroyed by authorities have become constitutive of a so-called Parisian "migration crisis" widely reported in the local and international press. From November 2016 to March 2018, the municipality operated the Centre de premier accueil Paris-Nord (CPA), nicknamed the "Bulle de Paris" (the "Paris Bubble") in Porte de la Chapelle, a neighbourhood at the northeastern frontier of the city. Conceived as an "experimental" and "temporary" local intervention into a crisis largely caused by failures of the National State, it was at that time France's first and Europe's largest urban migration reception facility. This dissertation tells distinct stories of the Parisian "migration crisis" in this site — built to the standards of an emergent municipal humanitarianism — and in the makeshift encampments that surrounded it and proliferated in Parisian public space. Drawing from ethnographic fieldwork conducted over more than three consecutive years in Paris, including in situ at the CPA for the entire duration of its existence, and during follow-up visits in 2021 and 2022, it interrogates the affective, discursive and material politics of this emergent "crisis". I argue that the "unconditional welcome" purportedly offered by the municipal facility was neither welcoming nor unconditional; instead, it jeopardised the presence, mobilities and prospects of migrants in the city. The dissertation consists of eight stand-alone chapters separated by brief bridging chapters. After an introduction, a methodologies chapter and a contextual overview chapter, Part 1 contains three papers that trace the emergent crisis urbanism materialised through the key site of the CPA. Part II consists of two chapters exposing dual processes of urban inhabitation and removal: In the first, I posit processes of démantèlement (decampment, or destruction of encampments) as domicidal practices engaged to remove and banish certain people from Parisian public space. The second traces a Parisian "Black Mediterranean" in which local solidarians and migrants living in encampments enact a "shipwreck ethics" of radical care that challenges the necropolitics of State immigration régimes. I end with a conclusion that maps out some future directions for research engagements stemming from this work.
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Thesis advisor: McCann, Eugene
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