Strategic Institutional Ambiguity and the Governance of Refugees in Lebanon

Dr. Nora Stel, Maastricht School of Management (MSM)

Lebanon has the highest per capita number of refugees worldwide. The 1.5 million Syrian refugees in the country face a 'no-policy-policy' that rejects the establishment of official refugee camps and refuses to give them formal refugee status. A stringent entry and residency regime created a situation under which 70% of Syrian refugees are now without legal residency status. This situation of systematic unpredictability and contingency reproduces the position of Lebanon's Palestinian refugees. With reference to an increasingly illusory 'right to return,' these have faced seven decades of 'permanent temporariness' in what is often called a 'state of exception.' Such institutional ambiguity is routinely explained as the consequence of capacity problems that stem from so-called state fragility or hybridity and the unprecedented scale of these refugee crises. The book project central to this presentation, however, argues that institutional ambiguity might also feature as a strategic governance modality. It explores the ways in which institutional ambiguity is produced and/or maintained as an instrument to control, exploit, and expel refugee populations.



About the speaker

Dr. Nora Stel works as Assistant Professor in Governance and Human Rights for the Maastricht School of Management. Nora is also an Affiliated Scholar at Utrecht University's Centre for Conflict Studies and at the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs at the American University of Beirut. She was recently a visiting scholar at the Governance and Local Development Program at Gothenburg University holding a Niels Stensen Post-Doctoral Fellowship. Nora works on the political anthropology of governance, authority, and legitimacy in conflict-affected contexts, with a particular focus on refugee communities in the Levant. She has done fieldwork in Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, Burundi, and Ethiopia for which she has been awarded several research grants, including one from Yale University. Nora has published with Oxford University Press and in journals such as Antipode, the Journal of Refugee Studies, Development and Change and the British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies. Her book Refugee Governance in Lebanon: Hybrid Political Order and the Politics of Uncertainty will be published with Routledge in 2020.



Venue: 0.16/0.17

Date: 15 May 2019

Time: 13:00 - 14:00


UNU-MERIT