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Refugee Heritage: the Archaeology of the Calais 'Jungle'

This project is a partnership between Sarah Mallet and the Museum of London Archaeology (MOLA), a charitable company and Independent Research Organisation with over 40 years of experience working with finds from archaeological excavations and whose overall purpose is to create archaeological knowledge, and to benefit people and society by sharing it. Together, and in partnership with refugee groups, we will develop a programme of recording and interpreting a large collection of more than 3,000 objects from the Calais “Jungle” made by the artist Gideon Mendel and currently stored at MOLA’s offices in Hackney.

This ‘post-excavation’ work with the material collected has two central aims: firstly, to contribute to an understanding of the camp, its residents, and those connected with it through the study of artefacts collected at the site, and secondly to develop a reflexive approach to our methodologies for dealing with archaeological collections. This partnership will thus allow for an in-depth assessment of how ‘unusual’ archaeological materials can shed light on MOLA post-excavation processes, as well as result in the creation of a unique body of material that will act as a visual testimony to the lived experience of a European refugee camp.

Migration has dominated worldwide political conversations in the past three years. The aim of this project is to present an alternative to the framing of forced migration as a temporary ‘emergency’ and to use both curatorial and archaeological methodologies to give a legacy to the camp, a space that is inherently impermanent, thus creating the time and space for new conversation about the central place of migration in the 21st century.


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