Beyond binary thinking

Marit de Looijer successfully defended her thesis “Beyond Binary Thinking, A spatial negotiations perspective on refugee tarries in South Lebanon”. In her thesis she discussed refugee settlement and settlement processes from a socio-spatial perspective. This perspective allowed her to move beyond the binary camp/non-camp characterization of refugee hosting and understand refugee settlement and settlement processes as hybrid and fuzzy. In her thesis she also discusses the policy implication of this perspective. Below the abstract/summary of her thesis.

MSc Thesis - Marit de Looijer - Final Version - May 3, 2016“Lebanon presents a game-changer for our thinking about and protection approaches to refugee hosting and settlement processes. In Lebanon, refugees from Syria do not live in large, formal camps, but reside scattered over the country in and around cities and villages, which affects relations between refugees, host communities and other actors involved in the country’s hybrid political order. This research has investigated how refugees and host communities negotiate the use and meaning of space with regard to the establishment and experience of refugee tarries, community formation, governance and livelihood strategies. It is an ethnography of social and spatial ordering based on fourteen weeks of fieldwork at a time when Lebanon’s refugee hosting situation had outgrown the state of emergency, but had not yet become protracted. The findings suggest that bureaucratic labels that reflect binary thinking, such as camp versus out-of-camp refugees or self-settled versus assisted settlement, should be perceived as extremes of a range on which refugees move strategically or subject to changing circumstances. This implicates acknowledging the hybridity, diversity and informality of the socio-spatial dialectic around refugee hosting. Consequently, academics, policy makers and aid workers should rethink the debate on displacement versus embeddedness into one about socio-spatial bordering, human (im)mobility and hybridity of places, and adjust their interventions accordingly.”

Supervisor-examiner: Bram Jansen; Second reader-co-examiner: Joost Jongerden