Spaces of refuge represent the paradoxical encounters between a series of governmental forces, disciplinary knowledge, aesthetic regimes and spatial conditions that tend to arrest, fix in time and space forms of lives. Considering the fact that camps are meant to be the materialisation of a temporal status, spatial and political, the proposition posed by Benjamin Gray’s Citizenship as Barrier and Opportunity for Ancient Greek and Modern Refugees,
to look at “citizenship-in-exile” practices in ancient Greece and their forms of “improvised quasi-civic communities”, is welcome as it is refreshing. This short response engages with Gray’s text, addressing two different but interconnected points: in one respect, I hope to rescue Agamben’s work from its linear reading by commenting on the depoliticization of the camp and the critique of its exceptionalism; and, in another, I wish to provoke reflection around the universalising claim of hospitality and full assimilation, by introducing the disruptive terminology of inhabitation. This critical insertion aims to redefine an ethical relationship with the space, as a space of and for life, that Agamben sees as the basis for a new ethics, reversing its status as a productive and active force where the camp, in its paradigmatic reading, and the form of life it generates, helps to think beside the exceptional and move to inhabit such indistinctions.
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