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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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Concentrating the “Dangerous Classes”

Concentrating the “Dangerous Classes”

The Cultural and Material Foundations of British Camps

(p.14) Chapter 1 Concentrating the “Dangerous Classes”
Barbed-Wire Imperialism

Aidan Forth

University of California Press

Britain assembled the foundations of its empire of camps over the course of the nineteenth century. The institutions of mass industrial society—workhouses, prisons, and factories—affirmed concentration and confinement as normative methods to discipline the vagrant and criminal poor. The military institutionalized army camps and POW camps as disciplinary technologies and disseminated them across the empire. Criminal tribe settlements in India experimented with measures of spatial and social control later used in the context of wartime counterinsurgency. Their proponents imagined such settlements to be measures of social quarantine that would protect society from the dangerous classes while curing and reforming those detained. Medical and military metaphors provided a powerful language that would frame the development of future camps across Britain’s late-Victorian empire.

Keywords:   Workhouse, Prison, Criminal poor, Discipline, Military, Medical, Criminal Tribe, Counterinsurgency, Dangerous classes

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