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Department of Geography


Maria Hagan, BA (Hons) MA (Res)

PhD Candidate at the Department of Geography and Wolfson College

Contingent camps: a comparative exploration of ephemeral encampment at the border



  • 2018 – Present: PhD Candidate in Geography, University of Cambridge, UK
  • 2016 – 2018: MA (Res) International Development Studies, University of Amsterdam, NL
  • 2010 – 2014: BA (Hons) English Studies, Trinity College Dublin, IRL


  • MA (Res) in International Development Studies (First Class)
  • BA (Hons) in English Studies (First class, Gold Medal Award)


  • Vice-Chancellor’s & Wolfson College Scholarship, Cambridge Trust, University of Cambridge (2018 – 2021)
  • Robert Gardiner Memorial Scholarship (2018 – 2021)
  • Border Criminologies Master’s Thesis Prize, University of Oxford Faculty of Law (2018)
  • Gold Medal Award, Trinity College Dublin (2014)


At a time when borders are undergoing increasing securitisation in reaction to a rise in migration to Europe, my PhD research explores how the presence of displaced people is regulated in the controversial border zones of northern France and northern Morocco through the routine destruction of makeshift encampments. Proposing a conceptualisation of these ephemeral forms of encampment as ‘contingent camps’, my research seeks to provide a deep, textured understanding of these spaces through ethnography. I am interested in the implications of these ephemeral camp geographies and in the forms of resistance that emerge from them. My fieldwork has focused on Tangier (2019) and on Calais (2017-2020), where I have carried out a cumulative year and a half of ethnographic fieldwork.


  • Hagan, M. (online first 2021). “Precarious encampments in hostile border zones: the methodological challenges of and possibilities for studying contingent camps”. Area. DOI: 10.1111/area.12741
  • Hilhorst, T. Hagan, M. & Quinn, O. (2021). “Reconsidering humanitarian advocacy through pressure points of the European ‘migration crisis'”. International Migration. DOI: 10.1111/imig.12802
  • Gazzotti, L. & Hagan, M. (2020). “Dispersal and dispossession as bordering: exploring migration governance through mobility in post-2013 Morocco”. The Journal of North African Studies. DOI: 10.1080/13629387.2020.1800209
  • Hagan, M. (2020). “The Contingent Camp: Struggling for Shelter in Calais, France” in Structures of Protection? Rethinking Refugee Shelter. Eds. Scott-Smith, T, Breeze, ME. Oxford: Berghan Books.
  • Hamelink, C.J. & Hagan, M. (2019). “Communication rights for migrants” in The Sage Handbook of Media and Migration. Ed. Smets, K, Leurs, K. et al. California: Sage.
  • Hagan, M. (2019) Inhabiting a hostile environment: the sanitary politics of life at the post-camp Calais border. Society & Space [Open site article]. Available at:
  • Hagan, M. (2019) Street schools and school buses: informal education provision in France. Forced Migration Review (60)
  • Hagan, M. (2018). Disassembling the camp: the politics of policing exiles in Calais, France. Criminal Justice, Borders and Citizenship Research [Working paper] No. 3274536. SSRN. Available at:
  • Hagan, M. (2018). The Jungle ‘Performance’: Recreating a Refugee Camp on the Fly. Refugees Deeply. Available at:

Lectures & seminars

  • “Our shelter is in shreds” Deterrence, destruction and dispossession at the post-camp Calais border Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford (May 2019)
  • Beyond the ‘Jungle’: exploring the ephemerality of encampment in post-camp Calais (in conversation with Dr Irit Katz) The Cambridge Migration Research Network (May 2019)
  • Beyond the ‘Jungle’: exploring the ephemerality of encampment in post-camp Calais Glasgow Refugee and Migration Network, University of Glasgow (February 2019)

Selected conference presentations

  • “The dead are tugging at our backs”: migrant life among the headstones of an abandoned Tangier cemetery (Paper presentation) Royal Geographical Society Annual International Conference, online (September 2021)
  • “I’ve never seen a female smuggler, but I wish I had”: Life among displaced women negotiating the Calais border during the Covid-19 lockdown (Paper presentation) American Association of Geographers Annual Meeting, online (April 2021)
  • “Tomorrow, inshallah” Reading hope and resistance at the northern French border (Paper presentation) Royal Geographical Society Annual International Conference, London (August 2019)
  • Obliterating the threshold: the ephemeral materialities of encampment in Calais, France Human/non-human migration and mobility symposium, University of Brighton (March 2019)
  • “Welcome to the Green Hotel”: reclaiming care at the Calais border [Photography exhibit] Infrastructures of Care: Spaces of Displacement and Refuge, University College London (February 2019)
  • “This life is like a prison: the carceral logic of exile dispossession in Calais, France” (Paper presentation) 3rd International Conference for Carceral Geography, University of Liverpool (December 2018)
  • Disassembling the camp: the politics of policing exiles in Calais, France (Paper presentation) Royal Geographical Society Annual International Conference, Cardiff University (August 2018)

External activities

  • Member of the Cambridge Emergency & Displacement Group affiliated with the Centre for the Study of Human Movement
  • Member of the Infrastructural Geographies Research Group