The figure of the camp towers over our present. Our planners find it indispensable. Our political grammar finds it unavoidable. Our very conceptions of “the city,” and its once stable inside/outside demarcations, find its challenge insuperable. Not only do more people and more categories of people inhabit camps than ever before, from refugees and migrants to the homeless and detainees, but the camp form today proliferates at the heart of urban space and across the global North/global South divide. Camps are no longer temporary sites of emergency management. They are a global logic of government, an enduring colonial technology at the heart of the response to the climate/border crisis. Taking up the example of the Palestinian refugee camp, this article argues that camps no longer teach us anything about legal exceptions; rather they underline the politics of inhabitation. Camps enact the collapse of the separation between life and politics by making the very fact of inhabitation in itself the basis of political control and contestation. If our world is becoming uninhabitable, the camp, the most common defense against racialized bodies moving to find a place to live, becomes the place where the very political stakes of inhabitation come to the fore.

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