Imagining Internment: International Law, Social Order and National Community
This chapter explores some of the myths and stories about civilian captivity developed by external decision-makers and observers situated outside the camps. In particular, it examines how internment was interpreted in light of contemporary understandings of international law, ‘military necessity’ and the right of states to retaliate in face of misdeeds committed against their own citizens by other states. It also considers the relationship between internment and instances of forced labour, a question replete with political and cultural significance at both local and global levels. Finally, the chapter explains how internment contributed to the construction of ‘national communities’ in wartime. This could happen by a process of negative integration, in other words via exclusion of the enemy ‘other’. But equally, it could take on more positive forms through active support from governments, pressure groups and ordinary people at home for the transnational interests of expatriates trapped in enemy countries abroad.