The Detention of Foreigners in France: an Off-Site Clinic?

Comparative Perspectives between Psychoanalysis and Anthropology
By Amira Yahiaoui, Léopoldine Manac’h, Paul Michel-Spraggett, Thamy Ayouch

This article considers the detention and confinement of foreigners on French territory within several State facilities dedicated to this purpose. The authors’ interdisciplinary approach combines concepts from Psychoanalysis and Anthropology to describe the processes and practices within several facilities in order to study their repercussions on the bodies and psyches of those affected by these unique types of confinement. Our ethnographic focus is on two specific settings: the Centres de retention administrative (administrative detention centres, or CRA) and the Reception and accommodation programs for asylum seekers (PRAHDA). By considering the interactions between the psyche and the migration policy, we hypothesise that the subject’s symptoms are symptoms of a collective experience, both spatial and temporal. We aim to demonstrate how these places fragment and fracture the psyches of migrants’ subjectivities. The spaces of confinement and detention turn the lived experiences of those transiting through them into a “limit-experience” (Zaltzman, 1999).

  • detention
  • body
  • foreigner
  • limit-experience
  • space-time
Go to the article on