Accepted paper:

Inside the Syrian tent: home-making, camp sociality, resistance and subversion


Elisabeth Kirtsoglou (Durham University)
Maria Kenti Kranidioti (Durham University)

Paper short abstract:

Based on fieldwork among Syrian refugees in Piraeus, Greece the paper reflects on home-making in contemporary conditions of fleeing and refugeeness and argues that everyday camp sociality is a form of resistance which subverts hegemonic idioms of care and humanitarian governmentality.

Paper long abstract:

The present paper wishes to discuss the meaning of home in conditions of fleeing and refugeeness. Perceptions of home as the stable physical centre of someone's universe have already been theoretically and empirically challenged. Fieldwork among refugees in Piraeus in 2016 led us to ethnographically reflect on processes of home-making in transitory conditions. Our analytical attempt to acknowledge the importance of home-making in transition employs the concept of dwelling, which allows us to focus on the use of material culture, everyday rituals and cultural etiquette as important aspects of camp sociality. We record and discuss how the makeshift and official refugee camps in Greece were not only spaces and states of exception, but also sites for the recreation of 'home' as dwelling. Refugee dwellings in the camps were not comfortable or pleasant but they marked the dynamic manner in which people managed to organise life in transition and to resist and subvert the hegemonic idioms of care and humanitarian management. Refugee life projects were consistently propelled by the politics of hope and produced in conditions of way-finding. Our paper will look at the importance of understanding the intricate connections between home-making, resistance, subversion and sociality and it will contribute to debates around shelter, humanitarian governmentality and forms of sociality in so-called 'emergency' contexts

panel Mig06
Jungles, squats, camps and houses: ethnographic accounts of refugee dwelling practices in the context of the recent "refugee crisis" in Europe and the Middle East