The Imaginary of the Enemy in Calais

Matthijs Gardenier


Resulting from a research project on the development of vigilantism in France, the article focuses specifically on the anti-migrant groups "Sauvons Calais" and "Calaisiens en Colere", close to the far right, which intend to mobilize the population of Calais against migrants. To do this, they put in place a political framing depicting Calais as the ground of an invasion. Migrants, often dehumanized, are likened to an enemy from the outside whose objective is to destroy the city and take control of it. For the anti-migrant groups, the figure of the external enemy is completed by a figure of the internal enemy. Migrant support movements are depicted as infiltrated subversive agents, paralyzing public action from within. The No-border movement, perceived as anarchist, would be the worst incarnation of this figure of the inner enemy.

This paper aims to question the production of the imaginary figure of the enemy. In a schmittian perspective, the supposed peril of the absolute enemy that is the "them" represented by the figure of the migrant make the existence of the "we" possible. By its agonistic discourse, the collective creates two figures of the "we": a figure of the weak "us", composed of the Calais population and a "strong" one: the community in action, the people of Calais who actively fight immigration

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Im@go. A Journal of the Social Imaginary - Biannual - Edizioni Mimesis