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Materiality, Agency and Temporariness in Refugee Camps in Greece
(Danish Refugee Council)
Paper short abstract:
Drawing on extensive fieldwork research in refugee camps in Greece, this paper will examine how objects and possessions are used, circulated and (re-)appropriated by refugees to survive, create a sense of normalcy, and enact and affirm cultural identities.
Paper long abstract:
Refugee camps - the epitome of a state of exception - are conventionally conceived as transitory infrastructures, where refugees live in a state of lasting temporariness and waithood. Within this framework of temporariness, this paper will examine how objects and possessions are used, circulated and (re-)appropriated by refugees to survive, create a sense of normalcy, and enact and affirm cultural identities. Building on extensive fieldwork research in almost all long-term accommodation centers in mainland Greece, the authors will discuss refugees' agency observed in material interventions (expressions of national and ethnic affiliation, constructing shelter extensions and irregular shops, etc.), informal economies based on materials (buying and selling of containers, appropriation and sale of camp infrastructure, etc.), as well as (re-)use of materials (blankets, fire hoses, oil canisters, etc.). Moving beyond a static depiction of materials, the research will highlight the potency of materials in regenerating personal and collective agency in adversity.
The Materiality of Migration: From 'bare necessities' to 'promising things' [ANTHROMOB]