Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS: https://ethos.bl.uk/OrderDetails.do?uin=uk.bl.ethos.821627
Title: Between the state and the 'state of exception' : Syrian refugee governance in Lebanon
Author: Krayem, Dima
ISNI:       0000 0004 9359 9402
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2020
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Abstract:
The plight of refugees is often framed as an ‘emergency’ or as a moment of ‘crisis,’ rooted in temporariness and requiring unique systems of governance. Such a framing obscures practices and measures governing refugees, which are part and parcel of ‘normal’ and ‘ordinary’ politics. Challenging the understanding of refugee presence as the study of a particular (exceptional) moment, this dissertation grounds the study of Syrian refugee governance in Lebanon within a political economy approach, which positions ‘refugeeness’ within a history of ruptures and continuities. The main argument in this dissertation is that the governance systems of Syrian refugees are not the exclusive creation of the current moment but rather stem from a history of turbulent political relations between neighboring countries, interdependent economies, and complementary as well as conflicting policies that have shaped the history of Syrian migrant workers in Lebanon for decades. A political economy perspective sheds light on systems of governance that manage refugee presence in host countries and reflect existing structures of power relations and political struggles among a broad spectrum of actors. The dissertation is based on fieldwork in four urban areas in Beirut and Mount Lebanon among Syrian refugees and Lebanese host communities. It relies on qualitative research tools including focus-group, community, and semi-structured elite interviews. The dissertation traces the subjugation of Syrian refugees to the machinery of the humanitarian regime in Lebanon, beginning with an examination of the formal registration process within a framework of a complicated history of aid politics, the intricate sectarian power-sharing structures of the Lebanese state, and the absence of a domestic legal framework that could organize refugee presence. The governance mechanisms and policies produced at the onset of the Syrian influx are shown to effectively reproduce deeply entrenched political struggles and power dynamics that reflect Lebanon’s political landscape. The dissertation also examines the construction of Syrian refugees as humanitarian and social subjects through processes of ordering and control that essentialize refugee identity. In line with the rising global debates on the link between refugees and the question of security, this dissertation examines the securitization process of Syrian refugees. The construction of Syrian refugees as security threats lies in the intersection between a discourse of crisis and existential threat and a systematic set of procedures deeply embedded in historical and institutionalized understandings of security and of routine security practices carried out by a complex security apparatus that includes state and non-state actors. The dissertation, further, argues that the process of constructing the refugee as a humanitarian and social subject and establishing practices of securitizing refugee presence occurs within a framework of extended ‘precarity.’ My research examines precarity as an evolving condition for Syrian refugees that stems from the failures of the humanitarian government that leaves Syrian refugees to fend for themselves for survival in an unregulated market of services and labor opportunities. It demonstrates the double disenfranchisement of Syrian refugees both as humanitarian objects and as labor market actors. While the dissertation focuses on the case of Syrian refugees in Lebanon, it attempts to extend the analysis on how systems of governance deal with marginal populations beyond moments of ‘crisis’ and the need to understand how these moments are rooted in a nexus of several local, national, transnational actors. Syrian refugees may or may not return to Syria, but this dissertation aims to examine what remains of the mechanisms of their governance and how they might be used to manage other marginal populations in the future.
Supervisor: Abdelrahman, Maha Sponsor: Gates Cambridge
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID: uk.bl.ethos.821627  DOI:
Keywords: Refugees ; Governance ; Lebanon ; Precarity
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