HIS-20092 - The History of the Camp: From the GULAG to The Jungle
Coordinator: Aristotle Kallis Tel: +44 1782 7 34145
Lecture Time: See Timetable...
Level: Level 5
Credits: 15
Study Hours: 150
School Office: 01782 733147

Programme/Approved Electives for 2022/23


Available as a Free Standing Elective






Barred Combinations


Description for 2022/23

The Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben described the camp as one of the defining symbols of modern political power in the twentieth century. Undoubtedly, images and footage from the liberation of the Nazi-administered camps in Poland have haunted the collective memory and served as reminders of the destructive potential of modernity. However, the institution of the modern camp has a far more diverse history that transcends continents, ideologies, and functions. The camp has been (and continues to be) used by totalitarian, illiberal, and democratic regimes alike. It has been deployed as detention and disciplinary facility, as torture and even killing premise, as forced labour and ideological `re-education┐; centre, even as laboratory for chilling medical experiments; but it has also it has provided temporary protection or more permanent shelter from persecution. This module will explore the origins and history of the modern camp, exploring a range of theoretical perspectives and case studies from the last hundred years. Topics may include the concentration camps deployed during the Boer Wars; the Soviet GULAG camps; the network of Nazi-administered camps across wartime Europe (and how their function changed after their liberation in 1944-45); the internment camps for Japanese-Americans in wartime USA; the camps of the `cultural revolution┐ in Maoist China; the `killing fields┐ in 1970s Cambodia; the Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon; camps and `safe zones┐ in the civil war in the former Yugoslavia (1992-95); contemporary refugee camps; and the Guantanamo Bay detention camp.

To explore the history of the camp in the twentieth century in all its different forms. To advance students┐s historical knowledge and skills using a variety of sources and case studies.

Intended Learning Outcomes

demonstrate an understanding of the relation of modernity and state power to 'legitimate' and 'illegitimate' violence: 1,2
handle, relate, analyse, and present different types of information (textual, web-based, statistical): 1,2
undertake research in a comparative and trans-disciplinary context appropriate to undergraduate degree level: 1
Explore the 'exceptional' and transgressive status (legal, territorial, and ethical) of the camp, regardless of its function as a space of containment, violence or refuge: 1,2
demonstrate an ability to apply theoretical and conceptual tools to the study of particular case studies in a variety of historical, political, and geographical settings: 1,2
demonstrate that they possess a thorough knowledge and understanding of the main theoretical debates about the operation and legitimation of camps: 1,2
Understand the differences intentions and functions invested by different regimes in the institution of the modern camp: 1,2

Study hours

36 hours plenary and group seminar sessions
81 hours seminar and workshop preparation, including portfolio tasks and asynchronous collaborative tasks
33 hours exam preparation and writing

School Rules


Description of Module Assessment

1: Open Book Examination weighted 60%
28-hour open-book Exam
An online take-home exam with 8-9 questions in total from which students will need to answer 2. Students will have 28 hours to complete the exam. A well-prepared student will typically need c.2-3 hours to complete the assessment.

2: Portfolio weighted 40%
Portfolio of online tasks
A selection of small tasks (total c.1000 words, each typically c.250 words / 4 in total, typically in Wks 4, 7, 9, 11), chosen from a list of options prepared by the tutor as part of the weekly learning schedule and relating to each week's theme. Indicatively, the tasks are: responses to readings, analyses of sources, research on particular camps, online tasks, oral assessment, group or collaborative learning, and extended writing assignments. The portfolio will be assessed as one piece by the end of the module's teaching schedule. In addition to submitting individual portfolio tasks via Teams, students will be asked to submit the final portfolio as one submission at the end of the module via the KLE. As part of this process they will be given the opportunity to do small revisions to their earlier portfolio submissions. Each portfolio task will have its own strict deadline. Although the grade will be based on the final submission of the entire curated portfolio, late submission of individual tasks will be taken into account in monitoring student engagement. In addition standard university rules for late submission will operate for late submission of individual tasks.