Reference : The refugee camp as a space of multiple ambiguities and subjectivities
Scientific journals : Article
Social & behavioral sciences, psychology : Human geography & demography
The refugee camp as a space of multiple ambiguities and subjectivities
Oesch, Lucas mailto [University of Luxembourg > Faculty of Language and Literature, Humanities, Arts and Education (FLSHASE) > Identités, Politiques, Sociétés, Espaces (IPSE) >]
Political Geography
Elsevier Science
Yes (verified by ORBilu)
The Netherlands
[en] Refugee camp ; Space of exception ; Ambiguity ; Citizenship ; Palestinian refugees ; Jordan
[en] Analyses of refugee camps have criticised Agamben's conceptualisation of exception, understood as the juridical production of ‘bare life’ by the sovereign. They have emphasised the multiplicity of actors and exclusionary dynamics involved in the production of exception, as well as the politicisation of space. This scholarship has however stayed framed around an ‘exclusionary paradigm’. This article proposes a complementary way to move beyond Agamben's analysis of the camp by reconsidering the idea of a ‘zone of indistinction’ between exclusion and inclusion. It refers to Palestinian refugee camps in Jordan, where many dwellers have a dual status of ‘refugee-citizen’. It analyses how the subject and citizenship are ambiguously constructed as simultaneously excluded and included – and not solely included through an exclusion. To explore these complex spatial dynamics of exclusion and inclusion, the analysis addresses the exercise of three forms of power – sovereignty, discipline and government – by focusing on the materiality of the camp and the practices of authorities managing space. These powers are ambiguously contributing to the inclusion of the camp and its dwellers in the territory of the Jordanian state, as well as in the neoliberal city of Amman, while maintaining the character of the camp as an excluded humanitarian and temporary space. Through this process, camp dwellers are recast not only as assisted subjects and beneficiaries, but also as autonomous and productive subjects, as well as entrepreneurs and consumers. This article therefore argues that the camp needs to be re-considered as a space of multiple ambiguities and subjectivities aimed at creating a differentiation in the city.

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