Sites of Repression and Resistance

Political Space in Refugee Camps in Thailand

Author: Elisabeth Olivius


Refugee camps are frequently perceived as spaces of emergency and exception. However, they are also spaces where millions of people live their everyday lives, sometimes for extended periods of time. As such, refugee camps are political spaces where struggles over the right to influence life in the camps and shape how they are governed are continuously ongoing. In this context, what are the opportunities for political participation for refugees living in camps? How and to what extent are refugees able to carve out political space where they can engage with and affect their lives and their situations? This paper addresses these questions through an analysis of refugee camps in Thailand. Drawing on Foucauldian analytics, the analysis demonstrates how key strategies employed to govern refugees, namely spatial confinement and development interventions are also creatively subverted by refugees and appropriated as bases for resistance and political mobilization. The article provides new insights into the relationship between power and resistance, demonstrating how specific technologies of governance create opportunities for subversion, reinterpretation, and appropriation.

Countries: Thailand
Topics: Refugees

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September 2017
© E.D. Starin