The power of space: The biopolitics of custody and care at the Lloyd Hotel, Amsterdam

Claudio Minca*, Chin Ee Ong

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


This paper examines the relationship between space and violence through a biopolitical enquiry of custody and care at Amsterdam's Lloyd Hotel. The Lloyd Hotel began as a corporate established transhipment hotel serving transatlantic voyages. It was subsequently transformed into an emergency refugee camp and an improvised prison and juvenile detention centre. An iconic building which had functioned in both specific and broader networks of violence, the building is today a sophisticated heritage accommodation. We trace and analyse the ways in which the spatial arrangements of the historic hotel have facilitated, often concurrently, conditions of custody and care, and protection and control in its key historical moments. We address questions regarding the putative 'agency' of specific spatial designs and architectures in 'retaining' the socio-spatial elements of violence perpetrated in the past. Specifically, we suggest that the original and adapted spatialities of the hotel were often the source of unintended violence, abuse and transgression, signalling the 'power of space' in terms of agency over the subjected 'guests'. In analysing a single micro-site and its broader spatialities, we seek to contribute to a relational conceptualization of violence sensitive and attuned to the complex histories and geographical scales that have bound and still bind this unique Amsterdam place of hospitality and custody.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)34-46
Number of pages13
JournalPolitical Geography
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Biopolitics
  • Custody and care
  • Heritage and historic hotels
  • Power
  • Violence


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