When “vulnerability” is at stake: discourses on precarious lives in Marseille

Last November, as France was envisaging a gradual exit from its second national COVID-lockdown, the police evacuated several apartment buildings in the Petit Séminaire low-income apartment blocks (HLM) in the Quartiers Nord of Marseille, one of the poorest suburbs in Europe. The city council had previously issued a decree of imminent danger due to the unsafe condition of the buildings. For several months, the flats had been squatted by between 150 and 300 West- African asylum seekers and undocumented migrants. This eviction allows us to unpack some dimensions of vulnerability in the French socio-political context and perhaps provide answers to what it takes to be ‘vulnerable person’ when you are an asylum seeker or an undocumented migrant.