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‘The term encounter has been used in various disciplines to indicate a bringing together of difference (people, groups, ideas, etc.) with an aim of some form of positive or beneficial outcome’ [Standish, K., 2021. Encounter Theory. Peacebuilding, 9 (1), 1–14.]. Allport [Allport, G.W., 1954. The Nature of Prejudice. Cambridge, MA: Perseus Books] suggests that contact between different groups might lead to a positive change and the reduction in stereotypes, but later research shows that often conflict is more likely to arise. Nonetheless, while contact might presuppose co-existence and thereby, the enduring presence of conflict, encounter ‘is much more than that and involves a space where being with is the outcome itself’ (Standish 2021: 40). It is my contention that the ambivalent nature of the encounters that occur in the Calaisian space generates a layered level of dislocation for those who are entering this space. By definition 'ambivalent’ implies that feelings and reactions are mixed or contradictory. It argues that the ambivalence of these encounters shape not only people of the move’s experiences but also the discourses around them, leading to constant tensions and shifting allegiances, and ultimately the maintenance of the status quo.

Original publication




Journal article


Taylor & Francis

Publication Date



ambivalent encounters, nations, migrants, Calais, people on the move