“We’re not supposed to understand!” Refugee Governance and the Politics of Uncertainty in Lebanon
[S.l. : s.n.]
InDSA2018: Global inequalities
DSA2018: Global inequalities, 27 juni 2018
Article in monograph or in proceedings
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DSA2018: Global inequalities
SubjectNON-RU research; Onderzoek niet-RU
Lebanon has the highest per capita number of refugees worldwide. These refugees face an ambiguous governance regime that revolves around the institutionalization of informality, liminality, and exceptionalism. This reality is routinely explained as stemming from the capacity/resource deficits innate in so-called fragile states or hybrid orders. This paper, however, argues that institutional ambiguity can also serve as a strategic governance modality and explores it as an instrument to discipline, exploit, and expel refugees. Building on critical policy analysis and qualitative case-studies of Palestinian and Syrian refugee settlements in Lebanon, the paper investigates the arbitrariness and ‘potenza’ that constitute institutional ambiguity. It analyses these as crucial aspects of the ‘manufactured vulnerability’ that pacifies refugees, renders them vulnerable to abuse, and ‘encourages’ them to leave the country. As such, this paper complements our structural understanding of state fragility or hybridity with the more agency-oriented idea of a ‘politics of uncertainty’ that institutionalizes informality, liminality, and exceptionalism to pacify particular populations.
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