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The political geographies of a camp archipelago: Exploring Serbia's institutional camp geographies along an informal migration corridor

posted on 2024-06-21, 03:33 authored by Jessica Marie Collins

The past two decades of Camp Studies and camp geographies scholarship have witnessed a turn towards a post-Agambenian framing of the geographies of the modern-day refugee camp. This framing engages with the political ambiguities of the camp, the blurring of camp boundaries and the agency of camp residents. Following this turn within Camp Studies, this thesis project advances the understanding of how a camp archipelago operates along an informal migration corridor from the perspectives of both the authorities and the refugee camp residents. Within the context of the Balkan Route and the period following the ‘long summer of migration’, when an unprecedented number of refugees crossed over sea and land from Turkey through the Balkans and onward to Western Europe, this research focuses on the case study of the institutional camp archipelago in Serbia. In doing so, this project investigates how Serbia’s archipelago has contributed to (im)mobility across the Route through four empirical framings, each focusing on a distinct scale of analysis. The first empirical thread examines the function of the camp archipelago in managing informal refugee (im)mobility and the ways in which the authorities, as well as the refugees themselves, influence these mobilities. The second empirical thread examines the ever-changing refugee geographies that have formed between the camp and the city of Belgrade – Serbia’s capital city and a major transit hub in the Route. This is done via a critical engagement with the concept of ‘campscape’. The third empirical thread looks at the camp as a custodian institution and its malleable role in the management of migration, as well as how camp residents strategically engage with the camp as an institution on a daily basis. The final empirical thread further narrows the scale of analysis by investigating the management of one distinct demographic within the camp system – unaccompanied and separated refugee children. This investigation demonstrates that no single experience of the camp is the same and that the camp can shift meaning and function depending on who it is hosting. While the Serbian camp archipelago is indeed one system, it is a system of differentiated camps that have each established their own distinct, and yet interconnected, complex geographies in both their spatial and temporal dimensions.


Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Introduction -- Chapter 2: The Game: Or, ‘the making of migration’ along the Balkan Route -- Chapter 3: The Belgrade ‘Campscape’: refugee spatialities, mobilities, and migration corridor geographies -- Chapter 4: The camp as a custodian institution: the case of Krnjača Asylum Centre, Belgrade, Serbia -- Chapter 5: Camps and safe houses: Serbia’s local geographies of reception and care for unaccompanied refugee children -- Chapter 6: Conclusion -- Appendices

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis PhD


Doctor of Philosophy

Department, Centre or School

Macquarie School of Social Sciences

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Claudio Minca

Additional Supervisor 1

Richard Carter-White


Copyright: The Author Copyright disclaimer:




203 pages

Former Identifiers

AMIS ID: 271417

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