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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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Camps in a Time of War

Camps in a Time of War

Civilian Concentration in Southern Africa, 1900–1901

Chapter:
(p.129) Chapter 5 Camps in a Time of War
Source:
Barbed-Wire Imperialism
Author(s):

Aidan Forth

Publisher:
University of California Press
DOI:10.1525/california/9780520293960.003.0006

Guerrilla warfare during the South African (or Anglo-Boer) War presented a new context for the development of British camps. On the one hand, camps were a measure of military counterinsurgency that concentrated and detained scattered civilian populations suspected of aiding enemy insurgents. On the other hand, camps were measures of social control and sympathetic concern that organized shelter and humanitarian relief for refugees who had been displaced by scorched earth warfare and were congregating in overcrowded towns. Boer and African refugees presented a specter of social destitution and sanitary disarray familiar from Indian plague and famine operations. Like plague and famine camps, wartime concentration camps removed “uncivilized” and unhygienic populations from the center of towns and systematized ad hoc charitable arrangements by confining relief within demarcated boundaries. Although Boers were ostensibly Europeans respected for their vigor and courage, racialized discourses in the later phases of an asymmetric conflict denigrated them as uncivilized and even subhuman: such representations ultimately facilitated encampment.

Keywords:   Guerrilla warfare, South African War, Anglo-Boer War, Counterinsurgency, Humanitarian relief, Refugees, Concentration camp, Scorched earth warfare, Asymmetric warfare, Social control

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