Rethinking the camp: on spatial technologies of power and resistance

Diana Martin, Claudio Minca*, Irit Katz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

72 Citations (Scopus)


In light of the recent proliferation and co-presence of institutional and makeshift camps and encampments in Europe, this article explores the current multifaceted geographies of the camp and their formal and informal spatialities. By engaging with key work in ‘camp studies’ we analyse contemporary institutional and makeshift refugee camps in their complex relationship. While the review of the existing literature is a fundamental starting point for our analysis, in this article we propose to depart from a perspective exclusively focussed on institutional camps to incorporate a reflection on the informal encampments that have recently proliferated in Europe. In particular, we reflect on how these makeshift spatial formations are associated with the presence and workings of institutional camps, at times in a complementary, almost symbiotic relationship. We conclude by suggesting that camps should not be studied in isolation and that both institutional and informal camps should be examined as dynamic spaces that may be transformed and appropriated by their residents, becoming part of the current fragmented mobilities of irregular migrations across Europe and of the related political geographies of bordering, smuggling, and humanitarian care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)743-768
Number of pages26
JournalProgress in Human Geography
Issue number4
Early online date20 Jun 2019
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2020


  • borders
  • camps
  • makeshift spaces
  • migrants
  • mobility
  • refugees


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