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Colonial refractions: the 'Gypsy camp' as a spatio-racial political technology

Colonial refractions: the 'Gypsy camp' as a spatio-racial political technology

Picker, Giovanni, Greenfields, Margaret and Smith, David M. (2015) Colonial refractions: the 'Gypsy camp' as a spatio-racial political technology. City, 19 (5). pp. 741-752. ISSN 1360-4813 (Print), 1470-3629 (Online) (doi:

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Camps for civilians first appeared in the colonies. Largely drawing on the literature on colonialism and race, this article conceptualizes the 'Gypsy camp' in Western European cities as a spatio-racial political technology. We first discuss the shift, starting with decolonization, from colonial to metropolitan technologies of the governance of social heterogeneity. We then relate this broad historical framing to the ideas and ideologies that since the 1960s have been underpinning the planning and governance of the ‘Gypsy camp' in both the UK and Italy. We document the 1970s emergence of a new and distinctive type of camp that was predicated upon a racially connoted tension between policies criminalizing sedentarization and ideologies of cultural protection. Given that the imposition of the ‘Gypsy camp' was essentially uncontested, we argue that the conditions of possibility for it to emerge and become institutionalized were both a spatio-racial similarity with typically colonial technologies of governance, and the fact that it was largely perceived as a self-evident necessity for the governance and control of one specific population. We conclude by calling for more analyses on this and other forms of urban confinement in both the Global North and South, in order to account for the increasingly disquieting mushrooming of confining and controlling governance devices, practices and ideologies.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: camps, race, colonialism, Roma, Gypsies, Travellers
Subjects: J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
Faculty / Department / Research Group: Faculty of Education, Health & Human Sciences
Faculty of Education, Health & Human Sciences > Department of Psychology, Social Work & Counselling
Last Modified: 07 Apr 2017 20:18
Selected for GREAT 2016: GREAT a
Selected for GREAT 2017: None
Selected for GREAT 2018: None
Selected for GREAT 2019: None
Selected for REF2021: None

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