The Refugee Camp as Warscape: Violent Cosmologies, “Rebelization,” and Humanitarian Governance in Kakuma, Kenya


Refugee camps and violence do not go well together, yet they are closely related. By intention, the camp is a place isolated from the violence of homeland wars. It is a separation: a controlled and politics-free space apart from both the homeland and the host country. This externalization is problematic. Instead of perceiving of violence as something exceptional to the camp, I argue that it should be understood as an essential aspect in its organization.

In this essay I approach the refugee camp as a warscape in which violence, in manifest but also symbolic or imminent forms, affects everyday life in the camp. The dynamics of past and present violence translate into forms of spatial and social ordering that are essential in the understanding of the development of the protracted refugee camp as a socioeconomic entity.

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