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Often portrayed as a ‘state of exception’ (Agamben, 1995), refugee camps are typically associated with images of anarchy, disorder, violence or insecurity. In part, these perceptions can be attributed to the dearth of comprehensive books that focus on existing governance and political systems inside refugee camps, with the exception of a few seminal works (e.g. Agier, 2011; Lischer, 2005; Turner, 2010). Governing Refugees: Justice, Order and Legal Pluralism is a major contribution to this field of study. McConnachie marshals detailed empirical evidence to challenge prevailing assumptions and argues that refugee camps should be recognized as vibrant spaces where political, cultural and social lives emerge, extending beyond a conception of camps as ‘exceptional’ legal and political spaces. Drawing upon in-depth fieldwork in the Karen refugee camps in Thailand, this book elucidates everyday practices of governance and the administration of justice in the quotidian lives of camp populations.

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Book review


Sage Publications

Publication Date



25 (2)


253 - 256