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RSC Public Seminar Series, Michaelmas term 2023

Series convened by Tom Scott-Smith (RSC Director)

About the seminar

Azraq refugee camp, built in 2014 and host to forty thousand refugees, is one of two official humanitarian refugee camps for Syrian refugees in Jordan. Time and Power in Azraq Refugee Camp investigates the relationship between time and power in Azraq, asking how a politics of time shapes, limits, or enables everyday life for the displaced and for aid workers.

Based on ethnographic fieldwork, carried out during 2017–2018, the book challenges the perceptions of Azraq as the ‘ideal’ refugee camp. Melissa Gatter argues that the camp operates as a ‘nine-to-five emergency’ where mundane bureaucratic procedures serve to sustain a power system in which refugees are socialized to endure a cynical wait – both for everyday services and for their return – without expectations for a better outcome.

Time and Power in Azraq Refugee Camp also explores how refugees navigate this system, both in the day-to-day and over years, by evaluating various layers of waiting as they affect refugee perceptions of time in the camp – not only in the present, but the past, near future, and far future.

Far from an ‘ideal’ camp, Azraq and its politics of time constitute a cruel reality in which a power system meant to aid refugees is one that suppresses, foreclosing futures that it is supposed to preserve.

About the speaker

Melissa Gatter is a lecturer in International Development at the University of Sussex, researching forced migration, aid, and time in the Middle East, and she received her PhD from the University of Cambridge in 2020. She has also worked for leading aid agencies in Jordan, including Save the Children.

 

All enquiries should be directed to rsc-outreach@qeh.ox.ac.uk

Download the Michaelmas term's RSC events poster.

Listen to the seminar on SoundCloud.

 

This seminar is part of a series of events to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Refugee Studies Centre.

RSC 40th anniversary

Annual Elizabeth Colson Lecture

The Annual Elizabeth Colson Lecture is held in Trinity term. It is named after Professor Elizabeth Colson, a renowned anthropologist.

Annual Harrell-Bond Lecture

The Annual Harrell-Bond Lecture is named in honour of Dr Barbara Harrell-Bond, the founding Director of the Refugee Studies Centre. It is held each year in Michaelmas term.

Public Seminar Series

Each term the RSC holds a series of public seminars, held on Wednesday evenings at Queen Elizabeth House. Click here for details of forthcoming seminars.

Connect with us

To keep up to date with our events and activities, sign up for email alerts from the RSC and Forced Migration Review, and connect with us on social media.

Forthcoming events

Book launch: The Politics of Crisis-Making: Forced Displacement and Cultures of Assistance in Lebanon

Wednesday, 29 May 2024, 5pm to 6pm @ Seminar Room 1, Queen Elizabeth House, 3 Mansfield Road, Oxford, OX1 3TB

Skilled worker visas for refugees – a qualitative evaluation of the UK’s Displaced Talent Mobility Pilot

Wednesday, 05 June 2024, 5pm to 6pm @ Seminar Room 1, Queen Elizabeth House, 3 Mansfield Road, Oxford, OX1 3TB

A celebration of the life of David Turton

Saturday, 20 July 2024, 2pm to 3pm @ The Crypt Cafe, St Peters Church, Northchurch Terrace, London N1 4DA