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Sowa, Christian (2022) The Camp, Housing, and the City: On Migrant Camp Accommodation in Berlin. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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This PhD thesis investigates migrant camp accommodation in Berlin after the “long summer of migration” of 2015 (Hess et al. 2016). During this time, many camp sites were opened to accommodate newly arriving migrants in the city. The PhD thesis aims to explore this form of accommodation, and asks how to conceptualise camp accommodation in Berlin. In order to grasp the complexity and different facets of this object of study, the thesis argues that camp accommodation must be thought of and studied as part of the urban context and as a specific form of housing. Camps are questions of accommodation and part of the housing stock in the city. This differs from many studies, which exclusively conceptualise camps through the lens of borders and migration. The thesis argument is developed by an in-depth empirical investigation of camp accommodation in Berlin, as well as by engaging with different bodies of literature. I especially focus on studies, which emphasise the relevance of the city and of housing for the study of camps (e.g. Oesch 2017, Soederberg 2018). Empirically, the thesis examines different aspects and questions of the city’s camp accommodation, such as the arrival of migrants, the different camp types and actors in the city, the camp locations, the transition into own apartments, and the conditions of living in this form of accommodation. The empirical chapters progressively move from a study of camp accommodation as part of migration management towards a conceptualisation of camp accommodation as urban housing, by foregrounding the relation between camp and the city. The PhD thesis contributes to existing literature and debates on migrant camp accommodation. It adds in-depth knowledge from a specific research case, and it bridges different silos of disciplines. It especially contributes to bringing urban (housing) and migration (camp) studies into conversation. In addition to an academic contribution, the thesis engages with central policy debates in Berlin. It aims to contribute to the development of policy alternatives – affordable housing for all, instead of camps – and it discusses a political outlook – of migrants as tenants – following the argument.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses
Supervisors Name: Paolo Novak
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 02 Sep 2022 11:11
Funders: Other

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