A Global Shelter Crisis?
The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) estimates that approximately one out of every ninety-seven people on the planet is now displaced by war, persecution, or catastrophe, with the factors generating this catastrophe showing few signs of abating.1 As of the end of 2019, 79.5 million people were counted as dispossessed: 45.7 million of them were internally displaced and 33.8 million have sought safety across international borders.2 Of the latter, only 4.2 million have attained the status of “asylum seekers,” even as an additional 10 million humans are now designated as being without nationality or at “risk of statelessness.”3 Only a small percentage of the 100 million people displaced between 2010 and 2019 have been repatriated, in what amounts to a widening tendency toward protracted displacement.
The dispossessed of the present surpass the number of people cast adrift at the end of World War II. The refugees and internally displaced people (IDPs) of 1945 amounted to 7 percent of the global population and today’s refugees inch towards 0.9 percent.4 If the current crisis appears to be smaller in proportion, however, this is not solely because of the planet’s significant population growth. It is also an effect of the global refugee regime itself. Since the creation of the International Refugee Organization (IRO) in 1944, the establishment of the UNHCR in 1950, and the passage of the 1951 Refugee Convention, states have advanced an international refugee protection regime premised on the universal right to seek asylum, and—faced with the exigent circumstances of the internally displaced and stateless people—they have also extended the right of protection to categories of the displaced that did not fall under original treaties. At the same time, Western states, in particular, have sought to preempt and delimit the exercise of that right in practice. The refugee has thus been suspended between the aspirations of international human rights norms on one hand and the vicissitudes of domestic immigration policies on the other. States have repeatedly pitted the demands of sovereignty against those of human rights in ways that have increasingly “denaturalized/disqualified” populations otherwise worthy of protection.5 The result has been a progressive and de facto narrowing of the definition of refugees and their cognates so that the positive duty of states toward the displaced has been obscured in a cognitive and moral order characterized by “data gaps” and “category fetishism.”6
The true extent of the crisis facing asylum seekers is obscured by the fact that the physical and procedural barriers to people attempting to claim that status have actually never been higher. Australia’s reprehensible practice of intercepting refugee ships and directing them to “detention centers” on the island nation of Nauru and on Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island is not an outlier of contemporary refugee policy; it conforms to a general tendency on the part of Western states to subordinate “humanitarian refugee resettlement” obligations to a “criminogenic border policing practices” so that asylum claims can be deferred or preempted to begin with.7 France, as well as a number of other states, has even resorted to the legal fiction of designating detention centers within their sovereign borders as extraterritorial sites. This fiction allows them to abrogate their responsibilities under the 1951 Refugee Convention, which calls upon signatories to process the asylum claims of all those who succeed in reaching their shores.8
Two observations follow. First, when the right to refuge is neither abrogated nor effectively implemented, humanitarian government, in Didier Fassin’s terms, largely orients itself toward the [impression] management of limbo; it rationalizes perpetual internment under provisional conditions.9 In that process, the “politics of life and the politics of suffering” coincide with a necessary retreat of the state as signatories to international refugee conventions that regularly sanction the creation of refugee enclaves within their borders. Second, as if by common consent, the sociodicy of the dispossessed ceases to be sustained by nation-states and becomes the concern of intergovernmental actors who manage the permanent impermanence of a global internment regime; and then, by entrepreneurial actors involved in capitalist humanitarian initiatives. Together, these actors advance a coercively depoliticized vision of refuge/relief in a context where no actual right to either is generally respected. This is what is commonly referred to as “smart humanitarianism”—that is, a vision of action premised on the universalizability of “market-led business models” in the world of aid, relief, and development.10
Circle of Prosperity
Also known as “capitalist humanitarianism,” smart humanitarianism is a species of reasoning that accounts for, but does not explain, a remarkable partnership between the UNHCR and the IKEA Foundation. IKEA is the UNHCR’s largest private-sector partner (200 million dollars, in cash and in kind, from 2001 to 2013). And yet, according to the UN agency, its relationship with IKEA goes far “beyond philanthropy” to reach a “genuine commitment to innovation.”11
IKEA’s own understanding of that commitment is worth elaborating. Analogizing a relation between cosmopolitan consumers of home furnishings, on the one hand, and humanitarian subjects, on the other, the IKEA Foundation asserts that “design” generates “proper solutions” for refugees.12 “Proper solutions” are, in turn, defined as approaches remarkably consistent with IKEA’s own market strategy: they “reflect IKEA’s business philosophy of partnership, long-term focus, cost-consciousness, innovation, creativity, constant improvement, and strong ethical behavior.”13 Finally, the market strategy itself attains the status of a universal ethic. Seeking to “maximize return on invested capital,” IKEA has created a moral template not only for living the good life but also for mitigating unlivable ones. Recalling Adam Smith’s “virtuous cycle” while intending to replace the “cycle of poverty,” IKEA terms this template the “circle of prosperity.”14 This circle emphasizes something very much like the ‘greatest happiness principle’ once advanced by the Utilitarian philosopher Jeremy Bentham—but it nowhere refers to rights, human or otherwise.15
IKEA’s forwarding of domestic furniture as, in effect, a vehicle for achieving the good life signals a historic transition from a postwar Nordic model of social democracy that once allied consumer consumption to collective well-being, to a consumer capitalist association of morality with consumption per se.16 The original model is premised upon a continuum between the nation-state as “home of the people” (Folkhemmet in Swedish), the individual homes of the nation-state’s citizenry, and the political subjectivity of citizen-consumers who sacrifice luxury for the shared benefit of social goods. In the words of Swedish national propaganda, “Per Albin (Hansson, former prime minister and national father-figure) built the ‘home of the people’ and Ingvar Kamprad (IKEA’s founder) furnished it.”17 The well-furnished home was, here, a locus for the Nordic welfare state’s imagined community of citizen-consumers and their moral behavior. This home not only subtends IKEA’s “democratization” of domestic design, but—as we discuss in “A Better Refugee,” below—also Nordic architectural phenomenology with its normalizations of “home” and “dwelling” as universal conditions. In this sense, presumably offering an expanded set of domestic conditions to displaced people, the Better Shelter represents a physical universalization of governance through domesticity, even as the political rights that would have made it a “home for the people” are actually withdrawn.
A Better Shelter
The centerpiece of the partnership between the UNHCR and the IKEA Foundation is a “social enterprise” called BetterShelter.org, which produced the packaged emergency dwellings deployed in Burkina Faso. Its mandate is to transform the landscape of camp humanitarianism by building upon IKEA’s successes with flat-pack design and packaging technologies to produce a universal and replicable postemergency dwelling. The Better Shelter arrives on site in two boxes that contain pipe frames, connectors, and plasticized insulation panels for the exterior. After an embarrassing false start with sheathing that proved to be highly flammable, version 2.0 now meets SPHERE standards.18 With the exception of a ground anchoring system that requires the use of tools, each unit is held together with pressure fittings that can be tightened by hand.
BetterShelter.org’s own presentation of what it calls “the product” emphasizes its humility. The social enterprise takes pains to acknowledge that the Better Shelter cannot compete with or replace standard tents as emergency housing for the displaced, whether in terms of cost or utility. Nor can the Better Shelter serve the purpose of resettlement, which requires infrastructure, civil and property rights, and architecture. “Our shelter looks like a kid from Sweden drew a house” is how one BetterShelter.org representative describes a product that is purposely designed to have a maximum lifespan of three years.19 This is because the social enterprise interprets the stark alternative between tents and houses in terms of duration—i.e., along an axis of permanence. In its telling, the Better Shelter is a product designed to respond to protracted refugee conditions by “bridging the gap” between emergencies and so-called durable solutions.20
But as it claims to make incremental gains along the axis of durability, the Better Shelter also replicates the same illogic of humanitarian governance it is intended to redress. In the first instance, it is important to note that there have been virtually no incremental gains in managing the settlement of forced migration in the past generation. Since the trend line is so entirely in the other direction, incrementalist assumptions about how to offer dwellings with a slightly longer lifespan must be understood as palliatives for an order that is actually characterized by category fetishism and inaction. More to the point, however, the Better Shelter cannot compete with or situate itself within a continuum spanning between tents and houses because the preceding are not indices of duration but rather moments in a juridico-political paradox that defines protracted refugee crises to begin with. This is because the dispossessed can neither move on while under the protection of the United Nations nor resettle in durable homes: the only migration available is an intolerable refoulement of endangered populations and the only homes on offer must be temporary shelters to meet the concerns of host states. These states typically tolerate camps only so long as they are provisional structures, no matter how many decades they may remain in place—a condition that was already well understood and anticipated by Palestinians who were forced to erect dwellings behind the canvas of tents in Jordanian refugee camps after the 1948 Arab–Israeli war. These Palestinians correctly intuited that the juridico-political status of refugees could not be reconciled with the form of their abode.
The Image of Relief
And yet, the Better Shelter matters: not because it heralds a significant advance in housing the dispossessed, but because it is credited with doing so. This crediting demands analysis as a first step in understanding the political logic of which it is a part. The gap between what the Better Shelter can actually do and the privileged position it occupies in the attention economy becomes explicable with reference to the “iconography of predicament” that the Better Shelter advances.21 As it implicates design in the amelioration of forced migration, the Better Shelter corroborates the humanitarian order’s technocratic framing of refugees and their “crisis” to begin with; it becomes, in other words, the image of a humanitarian response to a crisis as it is defined by the present humanitarian order.
No less important than the image of relief that the Better Shelter corroborates is the transposition that takes place in the process of formalizing that image. When a 2016 Museum of Modern Art exhibition on habitat insecurity made the Better Shelter model its curatorial “centerpiece”—to cite the museum’s director, Glen Lowry—it effectively bandwagoned with IKEA, the Design Museum, and other institutions in a complex process of reputation management.22 By engaging in an act of patronage toward the Better Shelter, an art institution with a billion-dollar endowment simultaneously engaged in “virtue signaling” in the social sphere—a species of legitimacy swapping that attends efforts to relate design to humanitarian crisis.23
These complex processes of swapping social capital cannot be mistaken for simple cases of mutual endorsement. To the contrary, the participants’ noticeable acts of mutual distancing enhance their own legitimacy as independent and “disinterested” social actors, even as those same gestures ratify the practical logic that attends all symbolic exchange. This is because “repression” of the exchange and “taboos” concerning any reference to it are the hallmarks of symbolic economies.24 BetterShelter.org now takes pains to distinguish itself from IKEA, just as MoMA seeks to present the exhibition of the Better Shelter and its corollaries as an act of public education rather than as the endorsement of a particular solution or policy recommendation. “We’re not advocates, but we have a voice in the world,” states Glenn Lowry when asked what MoMA’s role is or should be in the amelioration of forced migration. The more frequently the relation between design and humanitarianism is in this way questioned, the more surely it is legitimated by virtue of the imputed reflexivity of those involved in cementing the connection.25
In this way, a sociodicy of relief is advanced in the trafficking of symbolic goods depicting the social good. But so, too, are “unthought categories of thought which delimit the thinkable.”26 The social position occupied by the Better Shelter points to a particular way of understanding a social-political crisis so that it retroactively conforms not only to the way smart humanitarianism frames its objects and problems but also to a broader and unexamined framework of understanding. According to this framework—the global shelter imaginary—“what goes without saying” about the dispossessed presupposes all that “comes without saying” about their relation to architecture.27
To invoke a global shelter imaginary, then, is to recall the symbolic work necessary to legitimate and naturalize the relationship between “design thinking” and humanitarianism. This means that the global shelter imaginary refers, first, to the normalization of the given compendium of housing solutions for the dispossessed as a response to their political plight. These comprise an array of design prototypes that are regularly circulated and recirculated in mediaspace so that they come to constitute a self-referential and self-evident totality—that is, a universal image of relief. Not only does this composite image of shelter constitute an attempt to capture global displacement as, at once, product placement opportunity, branding possibility, market niche, professional subfield, and raw material for the production of social capital, it also represents what Bourdieu calls an “imposition of forms” whereby appearances become indistinguishable from necessity. In the novel paradigms, projects, and practices that are intended to “respond” to the housing needs of the dispossessed—and in the predominant theorizations of the relation between shelter and dispossession—the global shelter imaginary has come to dominate thinking and acting around dispossession. The global shelter imaginary, that is, perpetuates a particular technocratic pairing of crisis and relief at the expense of any other words one might crib together to analyze the conditions under which refugees are actually forced to negotiate the conditions of their existence, in part as a result of that same pairing.
For these reasons, the global shelter imaginary is a reification of what Saskia Sassen calls a “savage sorting” of humanity.28 In the identification of dispossession with the problem of shelter, the dispossessed are replaced with their own concept as that concept has been elaborated with increasing success by the stakeholders in a technocratic humanitarian infrastructure. But symbolic work involves not only an “imposition of forms” but also an observance of “formalities”: smart humanitarians themselves accept and advance the unquestioned and unexamined doxa of what James Ferguson has called “the anti-politics machine” to describe the coercive politics of depoliticization by means of which the planet’s undesirables are managed.29 Stated more simply: the global shelter imaginary corroborates a normative characterization of refugees as shelter seekers, transforms them into the subsidiaries of “refuge,” and in the process hypostatizes the problem of dispossession into a reprise of what the nineteenth century euphemized as “the housing question.” Indeed, one could go further to suggest that as it concerns itself with the morphologies of shelter, humanitarianism forgets its externality to its object and redoubles the displacement of the displaced people it purports to assist.
A Better Refugee
To suggest that the global shelter imaginary turns the world’s dispossessed into ancillaries of the forms of rightless relief offered to them is, in the first instance, to say that it aligns with larger tendencies in the management of the world’s undesirables. As is the case with other modalities of aid, assistance, and relief, contemporary shelter humanitarianism presumes and demands human types that correspond to the prototype solutions it offers: it relies, for example, on procedures of “participation,” “partnership,” and “empowerment” to at once map and reconcile the sociopolitical status of the displaced onto paradigms of consumer behavior. In a video released in celebration of World Intellectual Property Day, BetterShelter.org indicated that the social enterprise would “increase its impact . . . by developing its design together with partners and end users.”30 Here, the dispossessed are solicited to approach aid—and in the process, to redefine themselves—in the same ways as those assisting them participate in their own personal purchasing decisions. In the process, the language of “needs” sublates any talk of rights, just as the act of selecting from given categories of possibility presents itself as the only possible model of agency, a presentation that is as normative as it is oppressive.
More than this, though, the global shelter imaginary is also of a piece with a shift from “the protection of refugee rights to the protection of refugee bodies” and the concomitant subordination of human rights to humanitarianism, in the context of which forms of overt attention given to the displaced actually constitute society’s tacit inattention to mass displacement.31 For example, when U.S. President Donald Trump referred to his country’s border with Mexico as the site of a “humanitarian” crisis, he advanced a pattern he did not invent, and brought the United States in closer alignment with the speech acts of European counterparts.32 As Heller and Pécoud have convincingly shown, in the now-generalized designations of “humanitarian borders,” sites of interdiction commonly present themselves as the “sites of saving.”33
In this unnecessary sacrifice of human rights to humanitarianism and of legal protection to relief, the bodies of the displaced are expected to conform to the norms and qualifications assigned to them. The evidence of this transformation is overdetermined. For example, as Welton-Mitchell had indicated, “medical reports documenting asylum seekers’ physical and/or mental health are increasingly being used within Refugee Status Determination (RSD) proceedings as objective evidence to support asylum claims.”34 In that same process, Fassin and d’Halluin outline the ways in which “medical authority progressively substitutes itself for the asylum seeker’s word,” in an act of “objectification” that erases the “experience of the victims as political subjects.”35 Under these conditions, victim testimonies concerning the psychological experience of trauma become, at the same time, testimonies of the coercion whereby a humanitarian order transmutes political grievances into symptoms so that suffering confirms the seeming “apoliticism” of the humanitarian order itself.36 And in camps, finally, “biometric registration” serves as a passport to both food and shelter relief, even as it creates “digital refugees at risk of new forms of intrusion and insecurity.”37
Arguably, then, the new humanitarian order is a kind of biopolitics machine—that is, a form of governmentality in which “post-sovereign power” coincides with the regulation of the biological life of populations no less than with the ability to discipline individual bodies.38 As part of this order, the global shelter imaginary produces forms of subjectivity adequate to its own typologies. Not only is the global shelter imaginary the place where all precarious forms of existence are now expected to make themselves at home, it is also “orthopractic” in the sense that what is actually being designed in the process of creating a “better” shelter is a better refugee.39
The better refugee is a means to a particular end: the product placement of “humanitarian design.” The evidence of such practices is as anecdotal as it is pervasive. Shared with 2.7 million followers, for example, a 2019 UNHCR Tweet featuring weight-loss celebrity and “high profile UNHCR supporter” Jillian Michaels invites viewers to “feel chills” as the reunion of two South Sudanese refugees is filmed against a backdrop of Better Shelters in the Democratic Republic of Congo.40 But this is just one instance of the way in which the better refugee is called upon to rehearse the mission statements of the venture humanitarians who support them in ever-proliferating press releases, videos, and the “churnalism” that follows them.41 As far as the Better Shelter–IKEA alliance is concerned, this means that—in media at least—the dispossessed appear to be those “whose lives have been changed” because they have been provided with “a safer more dignified home away from home.”42
It is difficult to discern if what experimental psychologists call “demand characteristics”—that is, “observer expectancy effects”—among the Better Shelter’s representatives or the assumption of “good participant roles” by the dispossessed actually affect or motivate the testimony captured in the calls articulated in Better Shelter media for safety and its fulfillment.43 What is clear, however, is that the formal function of the refugee testimony in IKEA Foundation videos such as “Almost 30,000 Better Shelter Units . . .” is to interpolate between levels of analysis—that is, between in-security in the international arena and domestic safety, or between politics and private life. Refugees become “better” as they fulfill this function. In “Almost 30,000 Better Shelter Units . . .”—the 4:45 minute IKEA Foundation video about Better Shelters on the Greek island of Lesvos—the statements of a Syrian taxi driver and his wife refer primarily to safety as distance from war (“When there are no loud sounds, no planes, no shooting, my kids and I can sleep”). But as they also express satisfaction with the lockable door of the Better Shelter they occupy in the Kara Tepe camp, the refugees’ statements are edited into a flow of no fewer than fifteen other discrete shots or narration segments that syntagmatically elide locks with security per se. In this way, better refugees give stakeholders in Better Shelters an opportunity to introduce and repeat key euphemisms for the denial of politics, so that the fulfillment of the implicitly natural and universal need for enclosure, for example, stands in for the security one can only gain when one is ensured the right to have rights: “whether you live in the north, south, wherever. You need a roof over your head and it needs to be safe,” states Jonathan Spampinato in affirmation of IKEA’s politics of depoliticization of the refugees’ political plight.44
In the media, repeated references to “privacy” and “dignity” in the provision of shelter stand in for an entirely absent concept of agency, which would be necessary to address the indignity of internment and dispossession. The better refugee doesn’t always have to do the heavy lifting of interpolating the loss of political agency into the acquisition of domestic dignity on their own. Sometimes, this acquisition is accomplished textually, by the sequencing of clauses in which a displaced person’s acknowledgment of their precarity is completed by a venture humanitarian presentation of temporary shelter as the solution. Take, for example, a 2019 press release describing how an Iraqi man named Jadaan returned to his destroyed village equipped with a Better Shelter: “‘There are not many opportunities for us here, but our children have hope for a better future,’ said Jadaan, whose temporary home means being able to return to a sense of dignity after years of being rootless.”45
“When Does a Shelter Become a Home?”
In even more common references to the Better Shelter as a “home away from home,” the international politics of forcible displacement is transmuted into implicit equivalence with the generic substate problem of homelessness and with the resolution of this problematic in domesticity. Repeating and thereby reinforcing the question asked by the curator of the MoMA “Insecurities” exhibition in IKEA’s “Human Shelter” documentary, the author of an “Info-Migrants” feature on design for refugees asks: “When does a shelter become a home?”46 Two observations follow. First, in historical contrast with the kind of public debates that followed Krystof Wodiczko’s Homeless Vehicle project, which proposed as a form of social criticism to improve the lives of indigents by making it easier to live on the American street, few seem to ask whether it is actually possible or right for a shelter to become a home—or even to estrange the implicit necessity of the transposition of shelter to home.47 Second, as the question of “when is a shelter a home?” reverberates within humanitarian mediaspace, the global shelter imaginary blurs the difference between the rightless condition of the refugee and the socioeconomic displacement of the homeless within the domain of formal, or at least nominal, rights inside of one’s own country.
The question “when is a shelter a home?” is posed in ways that imply the answer offered in advance by a BetterShelter.org press release entitled: A Home Away from Home.48 Organized as a direct address to the reader, who is in turn put in the position of a forcibly displaced person—“You have had to leave your own home, your routines and your everyday life behind. Now, all around are 25,000 other people just like you”—the pamphlet hypostatizes mass displacement into the experience of an imputed Better Refugee capable of rationalizing self-interest along a prescribed path leading to the Better Shelter. In the process of “impersonation,” as Quintilian defined this figure of thought, the reader-as-Better Refugee is defined as someone who recognizes the “simple fact of having a home, a right so fundamental most of us take it for granted, can dramatically improve the physical and psychological situation of refugees. . . . [and that the] . . . Better Shelter meets the basic needs for the activities of basic living, for privacy, security and familiarity.”49 Invoking needs as rights in this fashion, the coercive politics of humanitarian apoliticism here recruits an entirely abstract Better Refugee into the affirmation of rightless relief.50
It bears stating that the implicit exchange of the right to have rights for the gratification of human needs—protection for relief—is only effected in the reported “sense” of shelter. For example, the Better Refugee’s conscripted testimonials about the feeling of privacy offered by the Better Shelter actually hinge on product claims that, for example, the shadows cast behind plastic walls are invisible from without.51 Similarly, the reported “sense” of security is premised on the existence of lockable door to a structure that only offers what one of the Better Shelter’s designers calls “a semi-rigid feeling” of polyolefin panels that can be cut into pieces with a good knife. And the Better Shelter’s “sense” of being a “home away from home” rests on the feeling that it feels “a bit more secure” than a tent.52
This emphasis on “feeling” is not incidental. It is part of the phenomenological disposition of the propaganda of rightless relief, which appeals to the belief that human experience of that world is universal and beyond politics. It is precisely this “jargon of authenticity,” as Theodor Adorno termed it, that permits humanitarian government to speak for universal humanity, and for its unwitting apologists to invoke the writings of Martin Heidegger (specifically, “Poetically Man Dwells”) when promoting a documentary about “human shelter” sponsored by IKEA itself.53 Here, the human senses become plenipotentiaries for the common-sense politics actually abandoned to the global shelter imaginary.
The phenomenological disposition that is so useful to such appeals to universal humanity has a deep connection with the architectural culture that generated the Better Shelter. As post–World War II architects in Europe and the United States became aware of the way in which their labor was unequally distributed in a world of decolonization and postcolonial conflict and violence, interwar phenomenology was brought to bear on the experience of architecture so as to render this awareness irrelevant. Architects derived from the thinking of Martin Heidegger that the experience of “dwelling” was not contoured by nationality, race, gender, class, sexuality, or any other social category but rather was “the free sphere that safeguards each thing in its essence”—this from Heidegger’s essay “Building Dwelling Thinking,” translated into English in 1971 and widely read in schools of architecture in the following decades.54 For Heidegger, then, homelessness was not unequally borne by the wretched of the earth but rather an existential condition shared by all “mortals” that could be resolved by “thinking”:
What if man’s homelessness consisted in this, that man still does not even think of the proper plight of dwelling as the plight? Yet as soon as man gives thought to his homelessness it is a misery no longer. Rightly considered and kept well in mind, it is the sole summons that calls mortals into their dwelling.55
It is not at all accidental that a phenomenologically inflected universalization of architectural experience has been consolidated, reified, and advanced, from the 1950s to the present, by Scandinavian architects and designers. In the first instance, the “conspicuous modesty” of Swedish postwar design coincided with a model of social democracy premised in part on citizens’ rights to access quality housing, consumer goods, and domestic furnishings.56 This association of a phenomeology of dwelling with a kind of design universalism was subsequently advanced, from the 1970s to the present, by Scandinavian architects like Christian Norberg-Schulz and Juhani Pallasmaa and Swiss architects like Peter Zumthor—each architects living, working, and teaching among the primary beneficiaries of global class apartheid.57 When the humanitarian promoters of the Better Shelter echo Heidegger in making claims for “poetic dwelling,” then, two phenomenologically inspired universalizations intersect with and augment one another, yielding a philosophical legitimization for the global shelter imaginary’s biopolitical project.
In the fabrication of Better Refugees/Shelter Seekers, however, the global shelter imaginary reveals more than the biopolitical core of humanitarian government and its attendant claims to reason. As the global shelter imaginary invokes a phenomenology and poetics of “dwelling” unthinkingly drawn from the thinking of actual Nazis, it advances biopolitics in claims for something resembling its supersession. Here, the biopolitical regulation of life presumes itself to advance an ideal beyond politics by appealing to the dignity of unqualified existence. And this is how the global shelter imaginary confuses bare life with cosmopolitan right and the state of exception with the common good. This, finally, is how a life horrifically suspended between the “fact and law,” to cite Giorgio Agamben, is postured into a regulative ideal.58