Accepted Paper:

Will spring come again? Exploring precarious temporalities through the combined study of rural and transnational mobilities of Syrian refugees in Jordan  


Ann-Christin Wagner (University of Edinburgh)

Paper short abstract:

The proposed paper brings the role of rural spaces back into view, highlighting how for Syrian refugees in a Jordanian city, transnational linkages, cross-border and rural-urban displacement become intertwined and forge precarious refugee temporalities.

Paper long abstract:

Syrian refugees in the north of Jordan are embedded in multiple transnational networks, connecting them to the Arab world and beyond. While most of these linkages predate the current refugee crisis, including seasonal migration to the Levant, remittances from the Gulf and cross-border kinship networks, they have been reshaped by displacement. Through refugee movements and humanitarian interventions, new transnational connections have been forged. Yet, while Syrians make use of these networks to mobilize resources and open up migration pathways, understanding temporalities of displacement solely in terms of transnational connectivity falls short of how refugees of rural origin experience precarious temporalities in exile.

The proposed paper retraces Syrian refugees' mobilities across borders, but also at the micro-scale of rural spaces and Jordanian host cities, drawing on one year of ethnographic fieldwork with Syrian refugees in a provincial town in the north of Jordan, as part of a PhD in International Development on the relationship between displacement and stalled mobilities. As most informants stem from a rural, often Bedouin background, their understanding of time continues to be shaped by seasonal and agricultural rhythms. However, being stripped off access to soil, forced into exploitative labour and living in temporary suspension in the host country erodes rural lifestyles and produces experiences of extended "waiting". Importantly, I argue against a bounded understanding of rurality as pastoral idyll. On the contrary, Syrians' pre-war rural lives are embedded into a history of rural dispossession and rural-urban migration which continue to shape their current temporal experiences of displacement.

Panel Mig03
Temporalities, migration and home: comparative perspectives