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Title: Childhood and play 'in-between' : young Iraqi and Syrian child refugees' play following armed conflict and forced displacement to the northern suburbs of Beirut, Lebanon
Author: El Gemayel, Sandra Marie
ISNI:       0000 0004 9359 5209
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2020
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Armed conflict and displacement have immeasurably harmful effects on children and their families. They constrain children’s opportunities to play, to learn through play, and for their unique potential to flourish. Nonetheless, there is a lack of in-depth research conducted into how conflict and displacement affect young refugee children’s play and experiences of childhood in different host environments. Through ethnographic case studies of four young Iraqi and Syrian child refugees in a northern suburb of Beirut, Lebanon, this thesis presents unique insights into the children’s family lives, their play and the violations of their rights in Lebanon. Underpinned by Froebelian principles of the integrity of childhood in its own right, the thesis theorises how the concept of ‘childhood’ is being constructed in Lebanon during the global refugee crisis. It identifies possible ways to improve play opportunities for refugee children who are living ‘temporarily’ in the northern suburbs of Beirut, arguing that they are in a state of ‘in between-ness’. The study follows a ‘day in the life’ methodology with four Iraqi and Syrian case study refugee children (4-8 years old) and their families, supplemented by questionnaire data from Iraqi, Syrian and Lebanese adults (n=100), semi-structured interviews with professionals working with refugee children in Lebanon, and an observation in a school for refugee children in Beirut’s Northern suburbs. Findings point to continuing children’s rights infringements in Lebanon, including poverty, limited access to physical, emotional and mental healthcare, poor living conditions, child labour, poor quality education and/or no school attendance, family separation and the destruction of communities. With lifelines falling short of ensuring children’s basic rights, contradictions between child and refugee policies, tensions between diverse organisations and the Lebanese government, and with limited access to play resources, growing fears and increased parental surveillance, particularly with regard to girls, children’s play and embodied experiences are being restricted. However, despite many hardships, play endures, providing children with a means to escape from their current liminal state through media, transformation and imagination.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available