UK and the ‘Razor-Wire Humanitarianism': The Refugee Crisis and the Aesthetic of Violence

  • Yasmin Ibrahim Queen Mary University of London
Keywords: Migration, Immigration, Europe, United Kingdom, International Politics, Humanitarian


When the ‘refugee crisis' in Calais became an issue of renewed concern in the summer of discontent in 2015, UK's reticent stance towards the crisis was captured through its measured approach. A notable riposte from the then Home Secretary, Theresa May, was to send in yet more security fencing to fortify the borders in Calais to assuage the disaffect from the truckers and the public. Dubbing this as UK's ‘razor wire humanitarianism', the paper examines how the material artefact of the razor wire is implicated in the aesthetic of violence towards the refugee and migrant bodies in the camps of Calais. Designed as a biotechnology to cause injury and trauma and to equally enact a material boundary against bare life (collapsing distinctions between animal and human) the paper utilises the razor wire as a lens to document UK's treatment of the ‘precarious body' where it is consigned to deaths and accidents invoking the border as a spectacular of necropolitics of the ‘living dead'.

Author Biography

Yasmin Ibrahim, Queen Mary University of London

Dr. Yasmin Ibrahim is a Reader in International Business and Communications at Queen Mary, University of London. Her research on new and social media technologies explores the ethical, cultural, social and economic implications in the appropriation and diffusion of ICTs in different contexts. Beyond her interest in digital humanities, she writes on political communication, visual cultures, Islam, migration and memory studies.


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