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Barbed-Wire ImperialismBritain's Empire of Camps, 1876-1903$
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Aidan Forth

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780520293960

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520293960.001.0001

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Britain’s Empire of Camps

Britain’s Empire of Camps

(p.1) Introduction Britain’s Empire of Camps
Barbed-Wire Imperialism

Aidan Forth

University of California Press

During colonial states of emergency officials collected distressed and potentially dangerous populations and concentrated them in purpose-built camps. Camps were rational responses to contingent disasters (hunger, disease and war) but they also emerged from more basic rationales oriented around the care and control of diseased, destitute and otherwise dangerous bodies. Existing scholarship treats camps as straightforward, epiphenomenal products of distinct crises and fails to make structural connections between related episodes of encampment or trace the trans-imperial pathways that connected different camp regimes in concrete ways. Britain’s repeated resort to mass extrajudicial confinement indicates that the rights prescribed by Victorian liberalism did not apply to subjects considered illiberal, uncivilized or incapable of self-government. Although camps drew from practices and principles honed in metropolitan Britain, they were a primarily imperial development.

Keywords:   Disaster, States of emergency, famine, plague, war, extrajudicial, trans-imperial, liberalism

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