Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Political Science

Second Department

Russian and East European Studies

First Advisor

David Siegel

Second Advisor

Kristin Bidoshi


concentration camps, internment, Agamben, political theory, Gulag, Australian mandatory detention, Irish direct provision, re-education camps for Uighur Muslims


This thesis aims to critique, amend and offer original analysis on the existing theoretical framework that denotes an internment camp. By utilizing Giorgio Agamben’s “What is a Camp?” (2000), and analyzing six case studies of specific camps, this thesis combines political theory and empirical research to offer a more comprehensive explanation of what an internment camp is and how it can be categorized. In “What is a Camp?”, Agamben examines one case study––Nazi concentration and extermination camps––to support his claims. It is very common among political theorists to study just one camp and apply Agamben’s theory to that one example. However, as many scholars have found, Agamben’s theory on what a camp is does not perfectly align itself with any one example of an internment camp.

Therefore, this thesis will take a comprehensive approach to analyzing what an internment camp is, and how all camps are connected in essence. The six case studies I will analyze are the Soviet Gulag, Nazi concentration and extermination camps, Chinese re-education camps for Uighur Muslims, Japanese American internment camps, Irish Direct Provision, and Australian mandatory detention for asylum seekers. While these camps have served, or serve, as different purposes to the governments that implemented them, they all share the same characteristics of exclusion, lack of humanity, and brutal leadership, among others. These shared characteristics among camps are oftentimes disregarded by scholars who write about only one camp and how that specific example relates to Agamben’s work. This approach is counterproductive to the study of Agamben’s camp and makes it easy to disregard what he theorizes. Instead, this thesis will take a comprehensive view to analyze how empirical examples fit together and how they relate to the theoretical camp.



Rights Statement

In Copyright