|dc.description.abstract||In early 2019, hundreds of orphans from the Islamic State were sent to refugee camps in Syria. In parallel, thousands of families in Australia were enjoying their summer camps, survivors of the Holocaust commemorated the 74th anniversary of their liberation from the concentration camps, and millions of pilgrims flooded the camps next to the Ganges River during the Kumbha Mela. From scenarios of extreme deprivation to luxurious joy, willingly or forced, we (humans) have been inhabiting camps throughout our entire history. Depending on the context, our understanding of “camp” changes, but why do we describe antagonistic spaces using the same concept? This thesis followed the premise that the connections between camps rely on their historical use as a technology to create temporary human shelters, suggesting that a better understanding of these spaces may improve the way we create them and use them.
The thesis starts by reviewing the main academic discourses about camps, addressing them as an educational strategy, a recreational product, and a biopolitical tool. After discussing these approaches, it was possible to elucidate the minimal elements and characteristics of a camp-space. Regardless of the context, this thesis observes a camp as a technological assemblage (of humans, a physical space, infrastructure/equipment, and techniques) that provides temporary human shelter while performing a specialised function (e.g. education, recreation or control). Using New Zealand as the case study, the aim of this thesis is to critically assess the evolution of camps, from their early use by the European colonists to the modern holiday camp.
Using Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology, more than six thousand posts in newspapers were used to track and describe the historical uses of camps between the establishment of the colony, in 1840, and the commercial boom of holiday camping in the 1930s. Once the historical connections between earlier camps (e.g. mining, war, and work camps) and the modern holiday camp were revealed, the analysis focuses on the use of camps as a network. A Historical Geographic Information System (HGIS) was built, using the records in holiday camping guidebooks (published since the 1930s), to reconstruct the evolution of the holiday camp industry, and the way it has been effectively used to capitalise on a vast territory with a scarce population.
The final product is a spatial narrative that critically analyses different historical stages of the camp, used as single spaces and as a network. The thesis concludes that, independently from the context, most camp-spaces are divergent phases of the same basic technological assemblage, used to mobilise humans within an environment, but keeping them excluded from it. ||