This contribution combines a theoretical reflexion and an empirical survey to reconsider recent research on “camps” as social forms, and on their problematic relationship with the political order. The article opens with a theoretical critic of a vision of camps as politically “abandoned” devices : in this perspective, camps are seen as mostly managed by street-level, empirically-defined-and-enforced “policemen’s policies” – policies which, as such, generally avoid political supervision or judicial review. In that sense, camps are a blind point inside democratic polities. The second part of the article however challenges this vision, basing itself on empirical research performed by the author on immigration detention centres in France. In this case, the original informality, opacity and precariousness of administrative detention was publicly denounced, with two essential consequences : first, immigration detention was institutionalized. Second, it was strongly connected to its political and legal environment through the organization of an independent control (performed by non-state Human Rights organizations) inside the centres, a measure that gave detention a public visibility.
Special Report: Neither War nor Peace
Revisiting the Statute on Administrative Detention in a Democratic ContextBy Nicolas Fischer