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Accepted Paper:

Syrian refugees moving money: Hawala, (Il)licit transfers, and surviving precarity in Jordan  
Sarah Tobin (Chr. Michelsen Institute)

Paper short abstract:

Hawala system provides Syrians in exile a continuation of pre-war socio-economic arrangements and a new response to conditions of warfare and displacement. It is subject to governance and securitization, demonstrating tensions between local protection and international responses to refugees.

Paper long abstract:

Hawala, the remittance system of the unregulated transfer of money via passcode, plays a vital role for Syrians in conditions of exile. While the system was utilized in Syria prior to the war, it has seen an upsurge in usage due to the dissolution of financial institutions within Syria and financial exclusion in second- and third- host and resettlement countries. Humanitarian aid and development organizations, stymied by security obstacles to aid distribution and development, now turn to Hawala to inject funding for aid delivery and development projects into those trapped populations and spaces. The sector has become targeted for money laundering, terrorism funding and counter-terrorism surveillance. Furthermore, the sector has proven to be such an important avenue that humanitarian aid organizations and local and foreign governments are attempting to co-opt it, regulate it, securitize it, and - eventually - monetize it. Based on interviews with Syrian refugees and first-hand observations inside money exchange businesses in Syrian refugee camps in Jordan, this paper explores the ways that the Hawala system represents both a durable continuation of pre-war socio-economic arrangements and a new response to conditions of warfare and displacement to offer modes of protection that reflect distinctly local people, places, and economic systems and governance formations. The sector relies upon local social capital for its functioning, which renders outside actors at a significant disadvantage. Hawala demonstrates the tensions that exist between local formations in agency and protection of vulnerabilities and the standardized international provisions and expectations in responses to refugee conditions.

Panel P010
Moving money and everyday life - understanding debt and the digitalization of credit [Anthropology of Economy Network]
  Session 1 Friday 17 August, 2018, -