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

Award Information

Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Chao Center for Asian Studies, Rice University
Architectures of Displacement: On Identity and Refugee Space in Beirut and Calcutta

Displaced populations, particularly those who have been the victims of war and conflict are often seen as subjects of humanitarian intervention and treated as hapless victims of trauma. Policies towards such refugee populations usually consider them as people out of place-temporary aberrations to the larger global political order. However, the close of the twentieth century has seen a rise in civilian, low-intensity conflicts creating ever-greater numbers of refugees as well as longer periods of time spent in “exile.” A radical reconsideration of refugee spaces therefore is necessary as these sites that contain temporary populations are becoming increasingly permanent. An architectural and geographical study of long-standing refugee spaces in Beirut and Calcutta reveals the intricate politics of space-making and identity formation that are intrinsic aspects of people who are variously seen as being in a “state of exception” or being subjects of “emergency urbanism.” In so doing, what is unveiled, are processes in camps that not only mimic urban practices of the poor, but in fact allow us to understand insurgency, belonging and rights in new and unique ways.