Humanitarian space: a dynamic “capture” network of global migratory flows and a constituent part of the contemporary city

PhD student: Student Sofia Moriconi

Tutor: Prof. Laura Lieto

Università defli studi di Napoli “Federico II”


My research focuses on humanitarian space, understood both as a dynamic “capture” network of global migratory flows and as a constituent part of the contemporary city, far from bounded notions like that of “Other Spaces”, confined into traditional humanitarian emergency spaces, but constantly interacting with several kinds of places and practices.

The idea of ​​humanitarian space is confronted with the seminal work of Giorgio Agamben. In Homo Sacer, he addressed “the Camp” (instead of the City) as the biopolitical paradigm of the West.

This type of space (born in the colonial period at the end of the nineteenth century) is described as an empty “bubble” in the globalized, smooth and continuous space of the contemporary world. Interpreted by some as a sort of Anti-City, like an Enclave, “the Camp” hosts entire populations for periods of time that, in many cases, last lives. Especially in the past, it had the ability to annihilate man’s political potential, his being a “citizen”, sometimes caused also by the presence and work of NGOs.

My research starts from the assumption that the humanitarian space is now beyond the definition of “camp-space”: this kind of space is now scattered and deeply entangled with other forms of spatiality.

My investigation aims to study the combination of bodies, objects and spaces collaborating and circulating through the humanitarian network, with a specific focus on migrant people.

The goal of my work is to understand the material conditions, the national and supra-national forms of regulation, the legal and political agreements, the actors and stakeholders that, in complex and different ways, actually “produce” the network of humanitarian space as a City-Camp.

The final objective of my research is to outline a series of guidelines and alternative strategies for planning and managing the humanitarian space network, particularly including the urban area of ​​Naples, and then replicable to a wider territorial dimension.