Detention Camps: Internment in Comparative Frames

The internment of specific populations outside of formal judicial processes has occurred throughout the 20th and 21st centuries. Called detention centres, concentration camps or re-education centres, they emerge variously during militarized conflict, in response to mass movements of people and at times where governments or their proxies seek to enforce ideological change or attempt to exterminate a racial or cultural group.

 

The internment of specific populations outside of formal judicial processes has occurred throughout the 20th and 21st centuries. Called detention centres, concentration camps or re-education centres, they emerge variously during militarized conflict, in response to mass movements of people and at times where governments or their proxies seek to enforce ideological change or attempt to exterminate a racial or cultural group.

This roundtable discussion brings together experts on internment in Europe and Asia to help us understand the public narratives about internment and the operations of camps across political, cultural and historical spectrums. How is the mass incarceration of humans—based on race, ethnicity, politics, sexuality or religion—justified, and explained to people outside of the camps? How is the official “messaging” about extra-judicial internment received domestically and internationally? What is the role of media and technology in this process? How does internment differ, or share similarities across diverse cultural, political and historical contexts? Do gender and sexuality influence the impacts of and responses to internment? Does the way the interment locations are labelled matter in the shaping of public narratives and responses to mass atrocities?

Speakers in the roundtable are: James Leibold (LaTrobe University), Anna Hayes (James Cook University) and Andrew Beattie (UNSW). Moderator for the discussion is Ruth Balint (UNSW).

Biographies:

Associate Professor James Leibold is an expert on race, ethnicity and nationalism in China with a particular expertise on Tibetans and Uyghurs from the western frontier. He has published extensively on contemporary China including Ethnic Policy in China: Is Reform Inevitable (Honolulu East West Centre 2013) and ‘Surveillance in China’s Xinjiang Region’ (2019).

Dr Anna Hayes is a political scientist working on human insecurity in Xinjiang and China’s Belt and Road Initiative. She co-edited with Michael Clark (ANU) Inside Xinjiang: Space, place and power in China’s Muslim Far Northwest (Routledge 2016) and authoredLegacies of the Uyghur Homeland and Uyghur-Australians’ (2017).

Associate Professor Andrew Beattie is a historian of Germany and his forthcoming book, Allied Internment Camps in Occupied Germany (Cambridge University Press, 2020) explores the mass internment of Nazis and other Germans by the Allied occupiers in the wake of World War II.

Dr Ruth Balint is a transnational historian of migration, displacement and refugees. She is working on Russian-speaking Jewish refugees to Australia in an ARC-funded project with Sheila Fitzpatrick and Jayne Persian. Her book Smuggled: An Illegal History of Journeys to Australia will be published by NewSouth Publishing in 2020.