Campzenship: on the camp as a space of membership

citizenship studiesFraming camps and camp-like institutions in terms of exception and emergency is certainly evocative and captures the sense of profound discomfort that many feel for this kind of institutions. However, this vocabulary also obscures the ‘normality’ of these spaces, in other words – paraphrasing Bauman – their being a product of our modernity (and post-modernity) not a one-off exception. It also obscures the lives and experiences of their inhabitants that the vocabulary of exception relegates in a terrain of indistinction and passivity. In an article just published in Citizenship Studies entitled ‘Campzenship: Reimagining the camp as a social and political space‘, responding to Bonnie Honig‘s invitation to de-exceptionalize the exception, I draw on my ethnographic fieldwork in camps for Roma refugees in Italy to show the camp as a space of sociality and politics that encapsulate postmodern political membership and the intimate and inherent relationship between space and politics in producing membership. An earlier version of the paper was delivered as a keynote address at the international symposium ‘Within  and beyond citizenship: Lived experiences of contemporary membership’, University of Oxford, 11-12 April 2013 – podcast available here.

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