Current Institutional Affiliation
Associate Professor, Geography and Environment, University of London / London School of Economics and Political Science

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2006
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Architecture, University of California / Berkeley
An Architecture of Displacement: Spatializing Identity in the Refugee Spaces of Beirut and Calcutta

Over the past fifty years, a concentrated international effort has been made to address the issues facing the over 18 million displaced people who inhabit a space that is simultaneously temporary and permanent, governed by multiple and often contradictory legal regimes. These refugee spaces that exist within the borders of host nations raise important questions about citizenship and the politics of space. How do the refugee camps become a home-land and what are the implications of searching for such a home for the refugees? How does the host nation manage the relationships between its citizens and those outsiders and how are these relations then articulated at the urban level? My research attempts to bridge the discourses on development and modernization, on the one hand, and on human rights, on the other. I argue that the process of adaptation that the refugees go through after displacement and resettlement is partially dependent on their prospect of developing feelings of belonging to the host nation. The main proposition of this dissertation is that the prospect of belonging and unbelonging is a dialectical relationship between citizens and non-citizens mediated by the state where the state uses the dichotomy between these two categories to discipline its own citizenry and create a national narrative. My project will study the spatizalization of the process of "othering" by looking at the Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon .and the East Bengali refugee settlements in West Bengal at two different historical moments. I hypothesize that the phenomenon of belonging and unbelonging are manifested in the built environment allowing us to understand how refugees make a home away from home in what I call the architecture and urbanism of displacement.