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Current Issue Article Abstracts

Winter 2016 Vol. 7.3

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Is There a “Modern” Natural Law Theory?: Notes on the History of Human Rights

Dan Edelstein

Human rights are a complex concept with distinct parts, whose histories are often independent from one another. Histories of human rights are almost always partial histories, and we cannot reduce their history to that of one part. This article challenges one of the central tenets of the early-modern history of human rights, namely that it was the “discovery” of subjective rights in the late medieval period that was the critical move in the development of human rights. It examines in particular the work of Richard Tuck, and exposes his debt to the French legal historian Michel Villey and to Leo Strauss. In so doing, it disputes the existence of a “modern school” of natural law theory, and sketches an alternative history of natural rights, which passes from the Huguenot monarchomachs and the English Levellers to the American and French revolutionaries.

Big Leagues: Specters of Milton and Republican International Justice between Shakespeare and Marx

Christopher N. Warren

Through Jacques Derrida’s extended discussion in Specters of Marx: The State of the Debt, the Work of Mourning and the New International, Shakespeare’s Hamlet has become “an exemplary text for thinking together about the current state of the world” (Royle). This article concerns Shakespeare’s Hamlet alongside Milton’s Paradise Lost as texts central to writing the “literary history of the International.” Whereas Derrida and Marx placed Hamlet at the center of their influential international visions, this article argues that the role of republicanism in forging international solidarity from the seventeenth-century onwards suggests that any literary history of the International ought also to include that key republican touchstone, Milton’s Paradise Lost. Against current critical consensus, however, it also argues that Paradise Lost’s republican internationalism developed through Milton’s own reading of Hamlet, and that Shakespeare himself may have been Milton’s “old mole.”

Dossier on Humanitarianism in Refugee Camps

Introduction: Hybrid Spaces

Maja JanmyrAre J. Knudsen

Recent decades have seen a proliferation of refugee camps, and today the refugee camp is one of the most poignant manifestations of humanitarian space. This dossier furthers the emerging critique of the “humanitarian management” of refugees, arguing that the process of encampment offers a vantage point to study the institutionalization of humanitarian governance. To this end, this collection of articles theorizes camps as hybrid spaces of humanitarianism. The practice of encampment thus gives rise to hybrid forms of governance, plural camp trajectories and individual migrant careers.

Camps of Containment: A Genealogy of the Refugee Camp

Kirsten McConnachie

What is a refugee camp? Existing definitions have focused on logics of power and institutions of governance. This article argues instead that refugee camps are best understood in relation to their purpose of containment. It posits ‘camps of containment’ as a specific form of encampment consisting of three primary categories: prisoner-of-war camps, internment camps and camps for forced migrants. This genealogy sheds new light on the origin of the refugee camp and reveals camps of containment to be an evolving politico-military strategy related to changing patterns of political conflict and to shifting anxieties about national security.

Spaces of Legal Ambiguity: Refugee Camps and Humanitarian Power

Maja Janmyr

While the refugee camp has not been defined in international law, this article suggests that discussing the legality and legitimacy of these spaces is key to any understanding of what contemporary refugee camps are. It examines different legal registers that might be used to evaluate the legality or legitimacy of refugee camps and approaches refugees and camps from a critical legal perspective. The article argues that in the same way that the refugee camp label (often) falsely signalizes a human rights- and protection-oriented sanctuary from harm, the presence of humanitarian organizations may wrongfully legitimize the arbitrary detention of refugees.

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

Bram J. Jansen

This paper approaches Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya as a “warscape” and explores the role that multiple understandings and experiences with violence play in the everyday organization of the camp. The dynamics of war-related imageries and various forms of past, present and symbolic violence translate into power processes and forms of spatial and social ordering that are explored as processes of place making. Rather than seeing violence as something exceptional, this paper explores how over the years of its existence since 1992 the camp was shaped by the narratives, experiences and understandings of violence and rebel histories, and the associations between refugees and armed movements.

Camp, Ghetto, Zinco, Slum: Lebanon’s Transitional Zones of Emplacement

Are J. Knudsen

Following six decades of forced residential immobility, Lebanon is the quintessential example of long-term encampment of Palestinian refugees. The camp-based refugees have been subject to a double marginalisation that affects both their status as refugees and their residence. Due to their longevity, the forms of refuge have changed, amalgamated and proliferated over several decades to become transitional zones of emplacement. In order to theorize this transformation, this article employs the critical sociology of Loïc Wacquant and Michel Agier to analyze the urbanization and subsequent dissolution of the country’s transient refuges.

Afterword: What Contemporary Camps Tell Us about the World to Come

Michel Agier

As a first part of this article, in order to attempt a genealogical reading of the current literature on camps, I outline three arguments which are central to the issues tackled by researchers these last decades, and which are the main themes of the controversies surrounding discourses and practices about camps: a securitarian argument, ahumanitarian argument, and an identity-based argument which first caught the attention of anthropologists when this new research highlighted issues such as the loss of identity or the anchoring of relationships and subjectivities. In the second part of the article, I draw the main practical and theoretical challenges for the future of encampments: camps as part of a marginal borderland at global scale, as the locus of an absolute and unknown “Other”, and as places of new forms of urbanity.

Photo Essay

Object Lessons

Nina Berman

In Object Lessons, Nina Berman photographs trial evidence used in US cases of human trafficking where the perpetrators were convicted of their crimes. These object, including texts, are paired with landscapes showing locations of crimes scenes. The approach is unique in its study of the mind of the perpetrator rather than the body of the victim.

Evocative Objects: A Sexual Violence Primer

Sharon Sliwinski

This commentary on Nina Berman’s series, “Object Lessons,” examines the photographer’s strategy of photographing trial evidence from cases of sexual slavery and human trafficking as a study in object relations.