Roundtable: Refugees as City-Makers (4/12/2019)
Roundtable 4th of December 2019 – 6 pm at the École Supérieure des Affaires (ESA, Beirut)
Roundtable in English
More than five years into the “refugee crisis”, popular discourses and media debates in Lebanon still lack the vocabulary to describe the impressive competence of individuals fleeing a war torn country and the resilience they have demonstrated in facing difficult residency in Lebanon. In this collection of essays, scholars, writers, designers and artists have set out to contest the stereotypical representation of Syrian refugees as a destitute, powerless and passive aid recipients. Through original research, direct documentation, analytical representations, and visual investigations, they present a kaleidoscope of refugees as workers, entrepreneurs, dwellers, visitors, artists, artisans, students, drivers and -mostly- as active agents in the reconstruction of their livelihoods, as well as political subjects engaged in a reflection of the future of their country and the significance of their presence in today’s Lebanon. In doing so, the authors invite readers to reconsider the widespread conception of today’s Syrian refugee presence in Lebanon as “a burden”, highlighting instead their important contributions in reimagining and enacting the city as a place of refuge and diversity. Throughout these narratives, we read about coping mechanisms, ingenious schemes, but also abusive official policies and discriminatory legal frameworks that polarize social groups and undermine possibilities of collective reorganization and emerging solidarities.
DOUNIA SALAMÉ is a researcher in urban issues and a research coordinator at the Beirut Urban Lab at the American University in Beirut, and its policy arm at the Issam Fares Institute (also in AUB). She is interested in issues of spatial justice, public space, gender, and everyday practices of the city. She is co-editor of Refugees as City-Makers.
OLIVIER CLOCHARD is social geographer at the CNRS (Migrinter, University of Poitiers, France). His current scientific activities are devoted to the international migrations in several european countries (France, Cyprus and Bulgaria) and more specifically oriented to: 1. the concepts of borders, 2. the matter of the administrative detention centers for foreigners, 3. the cartographic work of migration policies. He is also member of the Euro-African network Migreurop. He was the coordinator of TheAtlas of the Migration in Europe – A Critical Geography of Migration Policies (3rd edition) – published by Armand Colin in 2017 and by Routledge for the English version (in 2019). Along with other members of Migreurop, he also takes part in the project called Closethecamps.
This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement n°822806
This conference has received the support of the Institut Français du Liban