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What do refugee and concentration camps, prisons, terrorist and guerrilla training camps and prisoner of war camps have in common? Arguably they have all followed an 'outsides inside' model, enforcing a dichotomy between perceived 'desirable' and 'undesirable' characteristics. This separation is the subject of Møller's multidisciplinary study.



1. Introduction: Methods, Concepts and Theories

The introduction provides an overview of the subsequent analysis and a tentative classification of different types of camps, and an identification of the contributions of various academic disciplines to an understanding of camps. It also offers an explanation of the methodology, which is primarily functionalist, focusing on the functions of encampment, but also historical and dialectical in the sense of looking throughout at functional equivalents of encampment. It also introduces the theoretical concept of heteronomy, drawn from Michel Foucault.

Bjørn Møller

2. Punitive and/or Preventative Confinement

Chapter 2 surveys the most common functions of prisons, that is, punishment, deterrence (both general and specific) and correction of criminals, as well as that of keeping them ‘out of circulation.’ As the latter often leads to prison overcrowding as well as rising costs, countries are experimenting with prison privatisation. It may even be possible to make incarceration profitable, by combining it with forced labour. This was part of the rationale of the huge Soviet Gulag camp system, but it failed regarding profitability. The chapter also looks at the phenomenon of panopticism as an alternative form of crime prevention as well as its functional equivalents. The chapter also covers the alternative way of separating deviants from the rest of society through deportation.

Bjørn Møller

3. Concentration Camps and Ghettos

Chapter 3 offers a historical account of concentration camps from the very first, established in colonial settings, via the Nazi concentration camps to modern equivalents, for example, in North Korea. It also provides a classification of the Nazi concentration camps, including ‘death factories’ such as Auschwitz, and the perpetrators of genocide such as concentration camp guards, Einsatzgruppen and Nazi doctors such as Josef Mengele. Functional equivalents of industrialised mass murder such as slave labour and death marches are also covered as are post-war concentration camps.

Bjørn Møller

4. Camps for/in War

Camps play important roles in wars, one being detention of prisoners-of-war whose status is regulated in international humanitarian law. Insurgents and rebels also tend to establish training camps, typically in neighbouring countries. Camp-like facilities such as ‘strategic hamlets’ are also a central element in counter-insurgency warfare, intended to separate the guerrillas from the peasantry, but such arrangements may also be used for social engineering, for example, collectivisation and other attempts to ‘capture’ the ‘uncaptured peasantry’.

Bjørn Møller

5. Camps for People in Flight

Camps play an important role in the international refugee regime alongside and as an alternative to asylum and repatriation. Established for the temporary custody and protection of refugees, protracted refugee situations camps come to function as permanent homes for refugees and internally displaced persons, that is, IDPs. Often refugee camps are militarised in the sense that fighters are recruited among the refugees by insurgents, which may even transform refugee camps into training camps and bases for rebel groups. In response, refugee and internally displaced person (IDP) camps are sometimes attacked as part of counter-insurgency campaigns. The chapter also deals with the phenomenon of ‘boat people,’ that is, refugees arriving by sea.

Bjørn Møller

6. Conclusion

The conclusion sums up the main findings and identifies various types of camps according to their primary and secondary functions and lists the functional equivalents of camps. While acknowledging that camps constitute a very widespread phenomenon, it also underlines that they are always the exception, that is, heterotopias or ‘outsides inside.’ In their benign forms they may constitute ‘humanitarian spaces,’ but they often also have much more sinister functions. The chapter also points to the need for further research.

Bjørn Møller


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