Library Header Image
LSE Research Online LSE Library Services

The rise of the tent ward: homeless camps in the era of mass incarceration

Speer, Jessie ORCID: 0000-0003-1636-803X (2017) The rise of the tent ward: homeless camps in the era of mass incarceration. Political Geography, 62. pp. 160-169. ISSN 0962-6298

[img] Text (PoliticalGeography2017) - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

Download (415kB)

Identification Number: 10.1016/j.polgeo.2017.11.005


In the era of mass incarceration, services for the homeless often involve mechanisms of confinement and discipline. Over the past decade, homeless communities in cities across the US have developed large-scale encampments in which residents survive outside the purview of official homelessness management systems. Most cities have responded by evicting campers and destroying their tents and shanties. Yet some local governments have instead legalized encampments, while imposing varying degrees of spatial control and surveillance on camp residents. In so doing, they have created unique new spaces for managing homelessness. This article terms these spaces “tent wards” to reflect their dualistic functions of both care and custody. Based on secondary sources and ethnographic research from 2013, I analyze nearly a dozen tent wards in cities across the US, and engage a more in-depth study of the development of such spaces in Fresno, California. I argue that the rise of tent wards calls attention to the need for a renewed focus on the relationship between incarceration and welfare in the US, and the ways in which a diverse range of spaces function together to isolate and discipline entire segments of the population.

Item Type: Article
Divisions: Geography & Environment
Date Deposited: 06 Nov 2020 15:36
Last Modified: 17 Apr 2024 03:06

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics