Violence on the Body: A Manual for French Police Escorting Illegal Immigrants

How to expel and il­legal immigrant

The last decade has seen Europe ex­per­i­ence a very im­portant wave of xeno­phobia that is modi­fying our in­sti­tu­tions in their very es­sence. As two cur­rent ex­amples, Hungary is modi­fying its con­sti­tu­tion in order to de­clare Christians “normal cit­izens” and Italy and France are threat­ening Schengen space to know who will have to take care of 20 000 Tunisian emigres who just fled their country.

In this con­text, the French al­tern­ative press web­site Mediapart (here is a link to the English ver­sion) just re­leased a manual cre­ated for the French po­lice con­taining clandes­tine es­cort preo­ced­ures to the border. In this manual, dozens of pages de­scribe the pro­cedure of stran­gu­la­tion in order to po­ten­tially calm who they call “the for­eigner”. That’s in fact his only crime, be­lieving that glob­al­iz­a­tion was not just for goods, but also for people. He is cat­egor­ized as ab­so­lute oth­er­ness, the one we are taught to fear and to expel.

The pages of de­scrip­tion of the stran­gu­la­tion are in­ter­esting to look at. Their cold­ness re­veals the banality of vi­ol­ence, and yet two things strike me:

The first is that the photos present this vi­ol­ence as a cho­reo­graphy that ap­pears even more ter­ri­fying as it gives to it the dis­turbing am­bi­guity between an em­brace and a rape.

The second is the ana­lyt­ical present­a­tion of it that re­minds me of the present­a­tion of an ar­chi­tec­tural pro­ject. Diagrams, el­ev­a­tions (it shows front side and back), per­spect­ives, texts, everything is here to de­scribe an ac­tion on the body. This is a reading I do, in the spec­trum of my thesis, which is that ar­chi­tec­ture is weapon­ized; it car­ries in­her­ently a tre­mendous power on the body and ex­er­cises it by its phys­ic­ality. This ar­gu­ment might ap­pear ex­ag­ger­ated, es­pe­cially in this ex­treme case, but I in­clude at the end some pho­to­graphs by Edmund Clark, taken in the cur­rent ex­treme ar­chi­tec­tural paradigm in this matter: Guantanamo camp. In both cases, vi­ol­ence is ex­pressed in its banal­iz­a­tion which is the ab­so­lute danger of our so-​called lib­eral and demo­cratic societies.

Léopold Lambert is an ar­chi­tect and Editor of The Funambulist http://​www​.leo​pold​lam​bert​.com/, http://​the​fun​am​bu​list​.net/

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