Stuckness in the workplace: The case of Syrian agricultural migrants and refugees in Lebanon
Jessy Nassar (King's College London)
Paper short abstract:
This paper examines the work and living conditions of both old and new Syrian agricultural migrants who have settled in the Bekaa Valley. It shows how the stuckedness of Syrians is not only physical and legal but also operates in the work place.
Paper long abstract:
This paper examines the work and living conditions of both old and new Syrian agricultural migrants who have settled in the Bekaa Valley, which hosts the largest concentration of Syrian refugees and also happens to be the largest agricultural area in Lebanon. My arguments are based on in-depth ethnographic research including participant observaitons being currently conducted with agricultural workers in Bekaa. Having the highest refugee per capita in the world, Lebanon does not legally recognise refugee status and falls short on protecting migrant workers. Since 2014, and despite historical relations including freedom of movement with Syria, the government imposed a series of arbitrary and illegal restrictions on borders, internal mobility, work, and residency for Syrians, which further encouraged exploitation. I argue that these regulations have not only driven Syrians' legal and physical 'stuckedness', but also led to the emergence of other more complex forms of dependencies, which work interrelatedly and affect new categories of workers including women and children. Dire socio-economic conditions resulting from the refugee influx have forced Syrian agricultural workers and migrants to get stuck in a powerful and exploitative system which provides them access to both a home and a job.
Being stuck. Stillness in times of mobility