chapter  2
17 Pages

Military Aid

The Spatial Performances and Performativity of Contemporary Refugee Camps
ByAlexis Bushnell, Justine Nakase

This chapter provides an excavation of the spatial genealogy and performances of the contemporary refugee camp, focusing on Za'atari refugee camp in Jordan as a case study. Drawing on Henri Lefebvre's conception of space as a socially constructed product as well as Judith Butler's theories of performativity, the chapter argues that the camp space is itself performative, reiterating functions according to its design and acting upon the subject formation of the refugee. The chapter focuses on the Za'atari refugee camp because Za'atari is representative of a closed camp model that humanitarian organizations around the globe employ to address mass displacement. The use of internment camp spaces as a tool of refugee management by western European states began during World War I. The chapter concludes by advocating for a redesigning of the refugee camp space, drawing on theories of spatial justice.