By Martyn Hudson
‘Yet a gaze averted from the beaten track, a hatred of brutality, a search for fresh concepts not yet encompassed by the general pattern, is the last hope for thought’ – Theodor Adorno
Camps, domains of temporary habitation and engines of mobility, have been a ubiquitous aspect of the history of human society. They come in many versions from the earliest camps of hunter-gatherers to the war camps of the middle ages and to the vast encampments of military and colonial forces in war zones. There are camps of refuge and camps of concentration and extinction where temporary inhabitations are moments in the transition of human beings out of this world. From what we can discern about the Neolithic camps of Star Carr to the death camp of Treblinka there is a continuing concern with what humans are, what landscapes they traverse across, and the transience of those voyages and traverses. Camps have been pirate utopias, the refuges of maroon ex-slaves, the elegant meeting grounds and fields of medieval kings, camps for discourse, experimentation, and extermination. There have been camps of dissent, revolution and rebellion as in the peasant uprising or the camps of armies waiting to fight Napoleon. The first concentration camp at Norman Cross was designed by the British for Napoleonic troopers many of whom did not survive its ‘humane’ methods of incarceration. Camps can be conquest or of flight, in deserts or forests or jungles, even in the heart of cities. Often the camps are camps of imprisonment and captivity. In the camps and their many versions and multivocality there is much to be said about the many versions and multivocality of humans themselves and their temporary residences, caravan routes, and paths of flight.
This paper explores the multivocality of the camps and the kinds of social and human aspirations that support their formation and their persistence. If there is a single univocality across the multiple displays of ‘campitude’ it is that humans are almost defined by their capacity for and insistence on movement – even when that last camp is part of a mode of death, a destination from which those humans do not emerge, and to which that movement has been compelled and not chosen freely. But that multivocality is also about the social memory of the camp experience and about the ways in which in the twentieth century the memory of a specific type of camp would come to define the darkest parts, the ‘midnight of the century’, in the words of Victor Serge. The temporary habitations of those tents and those of the medieval world, and of course even more so those of prehistory, redefine the very essence of traces, for their traces in the material, geological records and in memory are faint and easily dispersed. The purposeful destruction of the traces at the camp of Treblinka are rectified only by a single map, serendipitously drawn at the time by Vasily Grossman, the documenter and archivist of the horrors of both of those terrible camps of Nazism and Stalinism and by the confused, contradictory but ultimately truthful memory documents of survivors like Chil Rajchman. Further, those political camps echo a world split into abyssal, vast social and ideological encampments – spaces which, even if we are not situated directly in their geographies, we owe emotional and imaginary adherences to and construct solidarities and lineages with.
2. Camps of extinction, refuge and flight
Primo Levi, in his testimony on and documentation of Auschwitz, recounts his memory of the child Hurbinek. Nobody knew where he had come from or who he was except that he was with them on the trains and on entrance to the camp. All Hurbinek would say was the word/words ‘mass-klo/matisklo’, a word not one of his fellow encampees could fathom. Neither did they know his ultimate fate. In many ways this dissolution of identity, a collapse of language signifies what Giorgio Agamben has called the ‘spaces of exception’ of the extermination camps where the laws of humans, perhaps even the laws of nature are somehow suspended, spaces which even God seems to have abandoned, or somehow for a moment turned away from.
But the camps of that war have also witnessed to the most terrifying beauty. Imprisoned in the camp near Görlitz in Silesia, the composer Olivier Messaien wrote the Quatuor pour la Fin du Temps (Quartet for the End of time), out of Auschwitz came Levi, out of Buchenwald, Ernst Wiechert. There have been camps of quarantine, and the penal settlement that Kafka wrote about with its terrifying methods of punishment, the imaginary camps of Narnia and of the Swallows and the Amazons. One of the most prescient understandings of imperial camps of contestation has been Julien Gracq’s Les Rivages des Syrtes. How can the imagination not be tempted by travellers in their Romany wagons, or the settlements of the indigenous peoples of the Americas, the camp followers of Brecht and Old Mother Courage and in that same war of Wallenstein. But for every place of redemption there are enclaves of destruction like Sabra and Shatila and Srebrenice or places where the normal rules of societies are suspended such as the micro-monarchy of the Kingdom of Redonda. Micro-camps, mountain base-camps, micro-nations, hunting bands, Occupy settlements, camps of desire and drift and social possibility. Some of these camps are Arks, which can save humanity. Some are anti-Arks, which lead it to destruction. Some are extinguished, some become cities. Human beings have long been transhumant, in movement, shepherding flocks and their own peoples. Humans are a specific form of Neobiota, organisms which have extended, colonised and imperilled the ecology of the earth. In their camps disaster was waiting for the world and also for them. But for us the camps also raise other possibilities, aspirations and dreams, which can elucidate new manners of being in and upon the world.
Theodor Adorno argued that the camps, which he himself narrowly escaped and which swallowed so many of his friends and peers, were about a sense of nullity issued to and upon the subjectivity of its subjects, annihilating their autonomy, their self-determination, and sometimes their very being. Adorno was similarly obsessed with houses, perhaps even the memory of in his own inhabitation in places that were not simply rational, calculable machines to reside in. He remarked upon the very archaic nature of the house and his own enforced condition of emigration with the labour and concentration camps acting as the ‘executors’ of the ‘fate of houses’. These were camps which were invested in technique, replicating the brutality of the guards in the prisoners, making even the ‘murdered, murderers’ and in which the practice of murder, utterly pleasureless, was even less without measure because of that. Catastrophe, for Adorno, was rehearsed in the camps. Even if that catastrophe could be expressed in messianic terms, as in Messaien’s apocalyptic Quartet, the very idea of the camps as the specific location of the ‘burned offering’ of the holocaust repels observation. Yet for Blanchot in his writing of the disaster ‘It is dark disaster that brings the light’. That disaster happens in locations which swallow populations and meaning itself ‘where all was lost’, the disaster is one of disappearance. The camp is the landscape for the disappearance of humans but also the site for the disappearance of the human, as Agamben has said; ‘Perhaps concentration and extermination camps are also an experiment of this sort, an extreme and monstrous attempt to decide between the human and the inhuman, which has ended up dragging the very possibility of the distinction to its ruin’. The extermination, argues Agamben, is ultimately comprehensible, even with its ‘dark and maimed language’, the untranslated word of the child Hurbinek. The spaces of exception were spaces of suspension and in turn to which others were indifferent. The practice of extermination was not necessarily unique but the concatenation of murder, with location, and method was. Agamben states, ‘But this has very much to do with the camps. For what appears in the camps is an extermination for which it may be possible to find precedents, but whose forms make it absolutely senseless’.
The emergence of the contemporary refugee camp, places of refuge and flight, creates new kinds of spaces of exception. What begins often as informal encampments can develop into new kinds of urban formations and initiate new forms of experience and identity. Michel Agier, perhaps the foremost commentator and analyst of the new camps, stated:
In the camp, a place is formed, and the camp itself becomes the environment where an identity strategy is born, not the contrary, as is often implied. Of course, national and ethnic groups may have existed before the camp, but it is within the camp’s space that they are transformed and come up against one another or even mix together; it is there that ethnopolitical forces may come into being with new contours of identity and multiple forms of expression.
But the subjectivities formed within the camps are themselves subject to new systems and totalities. The camps, for Agier are the ‘left hand of empire’. They are part of a persisting and durable global system, a powerful apparatus of safety. The new global order of humanity and humanitarianism is a new form of totality for Agier:
It reaches its fulfilment whenever consensus, the submission of the weak, or the ‘‘tolerance’’ of the dominant erases, stifles, or marginalizes any dissensus that expresses a ‘‘disagreement.’’ Whatever the means through which this consensus is forged, and whatever the shape of the totality represented, there is no longer any excess or outside party whose disruptive voice would threaten the consensus. In the absence of any ‘‘parasite’’ between the whole and the sum of its parts, each part of the whole considers itself to be in an immediate relationship to the whole, sharing the same destiny and coalescing around the same logos. It is a consensual system outside of which there is no remnant.
The disruption and defusing of resistance is part of an imaginary system of ‘kin-based’ conceptions of humanity creating an abstract conception of that planetary humanity at the same time as producing lesser forms of humanity who speak not for themselves and in camps which diminish their very human qualities. In the fictive kin-orders of humanity and its camps there is no residue or alternative – ‘At best it is there as an absence, the locus of desire, and the destination of flight. And in both cases, the permanent dualism required by every identification with the social order—which both affords resources and imposes constraints—is the condition for the possibility of subjection without apparent violence’. The geographies and metrics, the calculation and the apparatus of the camp is part of a vast imperial machine which imperils the multiple ways of being of concrete humanity as it submerges their subjectivities. Whether we perceive the camps as new urbanisms or as managing ‘undesirables’ they are seen by Agier as inflictions wielded over subjectivity by imperial regimes.
The mobile subjectivities of human beings are part of the fabrication of the world, enhancements and prosthetics designed to supersede what Bernard Stiegler calls the ‘genetic inscription’ of those beings. Liberation entails movement and rupture as the human body instrumentalizes itself away from inertia. For Stiegler –
Originary man is practically immobile: finding nourishment under an oak and “finding his bed at the foot of the tree which afforded him a repast,” he does not change places, nor move across space, let alone desire to possess the whole of it or even a constantly greater part of it. He is not moved excessively because he is not truly moved, he has no passions: he has natural, vital needs, which he can satisfy in reaping the fruits of nature close at (his) hand—this hand that only grasps without manipulating anything, an organ of grasping rather than of fabrication.
The supersession of this inertia and immobility is indelibly linked to technicity and the use of nature. The compulsion towards mobility and the illicit mobility of refugees are in turn mirrored by a whole world of unrestricted movement; of capital, of expertise, and of knowledge. The formation of modernity itself was profoundly related to both forced migration and the vast circulations of experience, resistance, and refuge across the Atlantic abyss. The new utopia’s of that Black Atlantic were often the consequence of piracy and the ‘masterless men’ of the oceans, the new nautical proletariat. There were new secessionist communities, new communist colonies, Maroon camps of multi-ethnic revolutionaries at the same time as the prison camps of the Louisiana slave plantations and the cages of the ‘wooden worlds’ of the ships. The spaces of resistance in the cracks between civilisations create new viral forms of mobile humanity:
These nomads practice the razzia, they are corsairs, they are viruses; they have both need and desire for TAZs, camps of black tents under the desert stars, interzones, hidden fortified oases along secret caravan routes, “liberated” bits of jungle and bad-land, no-go areas, black markets, and underground bazaars.
If we think of those routes and interzones as new ways of self-definition and self-determination, then the negative spaces of ‘exception’ and ‘suspension’ can also hold other possibilities. New ways of understanding and spatializing the camps of refuge can also direct us to other modalities of experience and landscape that can become part of a new utopian ‘secessia’.
3. Camps of Secessia
The utopian communities of the past were largely based on the idea of secession and the creation of micro-kingdoms and micro-republics which would act as enclaves within wider geographies, epochal forces, and peoples. Often camps would be created as forms of escape, or of trade, or as deliberate bastions of self-defence. In other ways, as we have seen, we have the temporary inhabitations of exterminatory and labour camps seen by Agamben and others as spaces of exception where the rules of civilisation and morality are suspended. The global policing of refugee camps, often under the aegis of the United Nations or Red Cross, have been for commentators such as Michel Agier part of the same carceral archipelago of capital and empire, dissolving some subjectivities and acting as the engine of others, specifically of the identities of vulnerability and dispossession. The temporary autonomous zones of Hakim Bey, upon secret Oases and in the ports of the pirate utopias have offered new alternatives about the kinds of subjectivities and modes of existence possible within a globalised regime of capital. The spatialisation of the refugee camps, their idiosyncratic geography and identity structures are often appalling, and there are many atrocities witnessed to in the camps. They have become liminal spaces for what Engels called ‘non-historic peoples’, or peoples that history has done a little too much to. They have become spaces that its inhabitants want to escape from, or become new cities like the townships of South Africa, or have developed into an important new modality of inhabitation on the earth, their very uniqueness and temporariness transformed into an enduring facet of how a large part of humanity lives on the planet. Some are largely self-governing, still others testify to contestations between humanitarian and policing powers and the populations they are supposed to advocate for. Indeed, campitude offers a new formulary for inhabitation, new imaginaries of how communities can exist, and novel formulations for what one can experience being part of them. Campitude offers both speculative architectures and new routes for future subjectivities, coalescing less in a ‘community’ than in a myriad of permeable coalitions, collectivities and self-definitions, changing and transforming, emerging and declining all of the time.
This production of space (where all that is solid melts into air, and all that is air becomes solid as it were) was expressed over half a century ago in a short work by Ivan Chtcheglov/Gilles Ivain and became a touchstone not just for the developing work of Lefebvre but also for the emergence of Debord, Vaneigem and the Situationists with whom Chtcheglov was marginally acquainted. The Formulary for a New Urbanism is reminiscent of many architectural and design manifestos but has a number of distinctive aspects which can illuminate the camps of our contemporary Neobiota and help us think about the experimental architectures of the near-future and the forms of coalescence that will emerge with them. These collectivities have little choice but to be secessionist if we pursue the logics of self-determination and self-emancipation and can illustrate the adage of another possible world delineated within this one, or what the Situationists thought of as bridgeheads into new worlds. What Chtcheglov calls the ‘Quarters’ initiates speculative scenario’s that (like the Hacienda) can and must be built. But built not upon the extinction and suppression of humans and their subjectivity but on the literal realisation of their imaginaries.
Influenced by his sojourn in the Saint-Germain-des-Prés quarter, Chtcheglov notes the geological and temporal sedimentation of the city, each strata displaying its past – ‘Certain shifting angles, certain receding perspectives, allow us to glimpse original conceptions of space, but this vision remains fragmentary. It must be sought in the magical locales of fairy tales and surrealist writings: castles, endless walls, little forgotten bars, mammoth caverns, casino mirrors’. But these archaic images are just forces of catalysis in the present, the moment between the alive past and the ‘already dead future’. The fragmentary strata of the quarters then become the base for the emergence of a new speculative and experimental programme of mobility and of campitudinous transformation; ‘Stars and rain can be seen through glass ceilings. The mobile house turns with the sun. Its sliding walls enable vegetation to invade life. Mounted on tracks, it can go down to the sea in the morning and return to the forest in the evening’. The new experiments in architecture and building are the articulations of new expressions of time and space, multiple iterations of desire – ‘Architectural complexes will be modifiable. Their appearance will change totally or partially in accordance with the will of their inhabitants’. Further, this mobile and modifiable experiment with strata, epochs, playfulness, and dreams is itself a new civilizational form expressed in architecture ‘On the bases of this mobile civilization, architecture will, at least initially, be a means of experimenting with a thousand ways of modifying life, with a view to an ultimate mythic synthesis’.
And Chtcheglov begins the construction of this new mobile civilisation: The Court of Miracles, the Tower of Nesle, the Sinister Quarter, the Death and the Happy Quarter, spaces entwined with the stories of peoples in movement. For Chtcheglov;
This new vision of time and space, which will be the theoretical basis of future constructions, is still imprecise and will remain so until experimentation with patterns of behavior has taken place in cities specifically established for this purpose, cities bringing together — in addition to the facilities necessary for basic comfort and security — buildings charged with evocative power, symbolic edifices representing desires, forces and events, past, present and to come. A rational extension of the old religious systems, of old tales, and above all of psychoanalysis, into architectural expression becomes more and more urgent as all the reasons for becoming impassioned disappear…Everyone will, so to speak, live in their own personal “cathedrals.” There will be rooms more conducive to dreams than any drug, and houses where one cannot help but love. Others will be irresistibly alluring to travelers…This city could be envisaged in the form of an arbitrary assemblage of castles, grottos, lakes, etc. It would be the baroque stage of urbanism considered as a means of knowledge. But this theoretical phase is already outdated. We know that a modern building could be constructed which would have no resemblance to a medieval castle but which could preserve and enhance the Castle poetic power (by the conservation of a strict minimum of lines, the transposition of certain others, the positioning of openings, the topographical location, etc.).
The principle of the new mobile civilisation is the drift from one quarter and landscape to another creating disorientation as one tries to navigate and traverse through the multiple camps of the new world.
Of course this is poetic and speculative and bears the mark both of Surrealism and the Situationists, but it also raises some significant aspects, possibilities and problems in campitude and in using camps as a new, and liberating rather than repressive, way of reformulating the civic spaces of a planetary humanity and its modes of being on the Earth.
The first question concerns the governmentality of spaces. Refugee camps are often situated in contested or liminal territories. Often the very status of the people or coalescences of peoples are fragile – they many have no access either to civic practices, political status or national identity. They are literally in-between peoples or peoples whose very existence is threatened with annihilation. The governmentality of these space are often linked to universalistic discourses of human rights and emancipation but in concrete terms these essentially non-state spaces have created their own modes of identity and self-governance which in many ways can act as a model for what happens when peoples are brought together in moments and geographies of crisis and catastrophe – in some ways this is the very ethnogenesis of new peoples and new mobile populations. The creation of new forms of subjectivity, sometimes out of horror, is part of new circulations of capital, knowledge and human transfer. The camps elucidate and threaten the idea of borders and boundaries that brought them there in the first place including those within subjectivity itself, its interiors and exteriors, inclusions and exclusions. The lessons that can be taken from ethnographies of the camps, mapping their geographies, their arts, their new civic practices have to be also about the evasion and supersession of the carceral archipelago’s of the camps when they are just that.
The extension of global capitalism, new proletarian subjectivities and new technics and machines also offer new modes of self-determination and self-definition. If some camps were designed to determine and define by force against the idea of a universal humanity, creating human and sub-human categories, our camps have to be centred around liberty and expression. This is not to surrender the idea of new epochal, continental and civilizational shifts and counterpose that to the construction of temporary enclaves but to see those temporary inhabitations as marking new maps of those larger shifts; experimenting, speculating and playing with futures. The multiple strata of geographies and histories, of the archaic and of the future, are the resources for that play where quarters are just as much archival retrievals from the past as much as the experimental architecture of future spaces. Further, they make the idea of ‘mobile civilisation’ a defining part once more of humanity rather than seeing one part of it as engaging in illicit mobility against and contestation with static communities of identities rooted in what are perceived as specific and unchanging spaces.
It may be that the temporary inhabitations of the Neolithic revolution and the subsequent projects to dominate nature were the beginning of forms of ultrasociality which would culminate in our potential new Anthropocene epoch – an epoch in which human intervention is signalled within the geological record itself. It may also be that new speculative architectures and urbanisms have to rethink that relationship to geology as well as attend to new forms of sociality which are not quite so inscriptive upon the earth and its records. In fact it is in those temporary socialities, coming into being and fading, and in those new concatenations of peoples living together, that the real lessons of campitude can be observed. When Messaien was writing his composition about the end of time he looked out from the prisoner camp towards the birds fluttering around the trees, and he listened to and notated their song. Perhaps others still will look into the camps of our future from outside and see the birds singing and winging between those tents and pavilions, and they will step over the border and come in.
 Christopher Smith, Late Stone Age Hunters of the British Isles, (London:Routledge, 2002).
 See the outstanding piece from Alan Johnson, ‘The Third Camp as History and a Living Legacy’, New Politics, 1999, 7:3 (new series) elucidating the ideas of the third camp socialism of Hal Draper and Max Shactman – what Irving Howe critically called the ‘isle of rectitude’ equidistant from the camps of Washington and Moscow.
 Susan Weissman, Victor Serge: The Course is set on hope, (London:Verso, 2001), 197. Suzi’s work, for me, has been decisive in understanding the camps of that century.
 Vasily Grossman, ‘The Hell of Treblinka’, in Chil Rajchman, Treblinka: A Survivor’s Memory 1942-1943, (London:Maclehose Press, 2011), 113-181.
 See Enzo Traverso (1999) Understanding the Nazi Genocide: Marxism after Auschwitz, (London:Pluto, 1999) and Zygmunt Bauman, Modernity and the Holocaust, (Cambridge: Polity, 1993) for contesting accounts of the Nazi genocide.
 Julien Gracq, Le Rivage des Syrtes/The Opposing Shore, trans. Richard Howard, (New York:Columbia University Press, 1986).
 Javier Marias, Dark Back of Time, trans. Esther Allen, (Harmondsworth:Penguin, 2001).
 See Jean Baudrillard, America, trans. Chris Turner, (London: Verso, 1988), for a discussion of the city as anti-ark.
 Theodor Adorno, Minima Moralia:Reflections from Damaged Life, trans. E.F.N. Jephcott, (London:Verso, 1978), 16.
 Ibid, 39.
 Ibid, 103-104.
 Maurice Blanchot, The Writing of the Disaster, trans. Ann Smock, (Lincoln:University of Nebraska Press, 1986), 7.
 Ibid, 27-28.
 Giorgio Agamben, The Open; Man and Animal, trans. Kevin Attell, (Stanford:Stanford University Press, 2004), 22.
 Giorgio Agamben, Remnants of Auschwitz: The Witness and the Archive, Homo Sacer III, trans. Daniel Heller-Roazen (Zone Books:New York, 1999), 37-39.
 Ibid, 27-28.
 See Michel Agier and Francoise Bouchet-Saulnier, ‘Humanitarian Spaces: Spaces of Exception’, in Fabrice Weissman (ed.), The Shadow of Just Wars: Violence, Politics and Humanitarian Action, (Ithaca, New York:Cornell University Press, 2004), 297-313 and Jenny Edkins ‘Sovereign Power, Zones of Indistinction, and the Camp’, Alternatives: Global, Local, Political, 2000, 25:1, 3-25. See also Adam Ramadan, ‘Destroying Nahr el-Bared: Sovereignty and urbicide in the space of exception’, Political Geography, 2009, 28:3, 53-163.
 Michel Agier, ‘From refuge the ghetto is born: Contemporary figures of heterotopias’, in Ray Hutchison and B.D. Haynes (eds.) The Ghetto: contemporary Global Issues and Controversies, Boulder, (Colorado:Westview Press, 2011) 265-292, 265.
 Ibid, 284.
 Michel Agier, ‘Humanity as an Identity and Its Political Effects (A Note on Camps and Humanitarian Government)’, Humanity: An International Journal of Human Rights, Humanitarianism, and Development, 2010, 1:1, 29-45, 29.
 Ibid, 30.
 Ibid, 31.
 Ibid, 32.
 Ibid, 33.
 Michel Agier, ‘Between War and City: Towards an Urban Anthropology of Refugee Camps’, Ethnography, 2002, 3:3, 317-366.
 Michel Agier, Managing the Undesirables: Refugee Camps and Humanitarian Government, trans. David Fernbach, (Cambridge:Polity, 2011) and see also On the Margins of the World: The Refugee Experience Today, (Cambridge:Polity, 2008).
 Bernard Stiegler, Technics and Time, 1: The Fault of Epimetheus, trans. Richard Beardsworth
and George Collins, (Stanford:Stanford University Press, 1998), 169.
 Ibid, 114.
 Ibid, 169. See also Paul Virilio, Speed and Politics: An Essay on Dromology, (New York: Semiotext(e), 1977/1986).
 Martyn Hudson, The Slave Ship, Memory and the Origins of Modernity, (Farnham:Ashgate, 2016).
 Hakim Bey, T.A.Z., The Temporary Autonomous Zone, Ontological Anarchy, Poetic Terrorism, (New York:Autonomedia, 2003), 105. See also Peter Lamborn Wilson, Pirate Utopia’s: Moorish Corsairs and European Renegadoes, (New York: Autonomedia, 2003) and Marcus Rediker, Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea: Merchant Seamen, Pirates and the Anglo-American Maritime World, 1700-1750, (Cambridge:Cambridge University Press, 1989). For critiques of Bey see John Armitage, ‘Ontological anarchy, the temporary autonomous zone, and the politics of cyberculture: a critique of Hakim Bey’, Angelaki: Journal of the Theoretical Humanities, 1999, 4:2, 115-128.
 Adam Ramadan, ‘In the Ruins of Nahr al-Barid: Understanding the meaning of the camp’, Journal of Palestine Studies, 2010, 40:1, 49-62 and ‘Spatialising the refugee camp’, Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 2013, 38:1, 65–77.
 Ivan Chtcheglov, Formulary for a New Urbanism, Bureau of Public Secrets, 1953, trans. Ken Knabb, C:\Users\cl-user\Desktop\Formulary for a New Urbanism (Ivan Chtcheglov).htm, accessed 16/09/2015. There are no page numbers to the document which is freely available for re-use.
 Martyn Hudson, ‘The Anthropocene and a critical theory of machines’, Heathwood Institute and Press, September 2015, http://www.heathwoodpress.com/the-anthropocene-and-a-critical-theory-of-machines-martyn-hudson/, accessed 28/09/2015.
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