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Title: Policing the camp : refugees and the geographies of humanitarian enforcement in Kenya
Author: Brankamp, Hanno
ISNI:       0000 0004 8507 0998
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2019
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Humanitarianism is a morally charged project that vacillates between the alleviation of hardship and the re-inscription of further violence. Nowhere is this more pronounced than in the global archipelago of camps that houses millions of displaced people and thus appears as a beacon of protection, safety, and peace. This doctoral thesis questions this deceptive image and ethnographically explores the geographies of enforcing order in the paradigmatic humanitarian space of the refugee camp. It focuses specifically on the Kakuma refugee camp in north-western Kenya but offers a reading of the spatial, governmental, and discursive effects of policing camps and non-citizen populations that resonates with order-making practices elsewhere in the colonial present. African societies have been subjected to innumerable humanitarian interventions, emergency responses, and disaster relief operations over the past few decades. Forced displacement has arguably been one of the most visible results of political turmoil, civil war, economic devastation, persecution and has hence led to encampment on an unprecedented scale throughout the continent. Viewed through the prism of containment and control, African camps are the southernmost outposts of a global system of immobilisation, border policing, and closure that is not novel but has rather reached unrivalled proportions in recent years. Based on fifteen months of ethnographic research in Kakuma camp, this study delves into three interrelated facets of humanitarian enforcement by discussing (i) the militarised spatialities of the camp in which Kenya's state violence has merged seamlessly with the contemporary humanitarian need for unobstructed aid management, (ii) the multiple technologies of government which enlist refugees themselves into upholding camp order, and (iii) the discursive practices of camp administrators who envision refugees as governable subjects that require constant policing and disciplinary checks. The study contributes to scholarship on humanitarian violence, camp geographies, refugee management, policing and local security governance in Africa, and the imaginative geographies of displacement. It counters the reification of the political technology of the camp and concludes with a discussion on the coloniality of policing refugees that exposes the illiberal disposition of humanitarianism in the global South. Policing thereby seems as integral to the workings of refugee camps as the provision of food, shelter, and legal aid. Paradoxically, it is only through uniformed officers, the baton, the gun, and the prison cell that humanitarians are able to make their promise of protection.
Supervisor: Daley, Patricia ; Owen, Oliver Sponsor: Economic and Social Research Council ; German National Academic Foundation (Studienstiftung des Deutschen Volkes)
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available