Panel 1h. The Politics of Displacement: Aid, Asylum and Resistance in the Context of Refugee Camps

Chair: Lucas Oesch, The University of Manchester

Turkish Asylum Policy Before and During the Syrian Crisis: The Impact of the European Union and Other Factors
Bengu Ezgi Aydin, Near Eastern Studies, New York University

This paper attempts to examine the determinants of Turkish asylum policy, and in particular the impact of the European Union on that asylum policy, with a case study on the current Syrian refugee crisis. I will argue that whilst the EU is clearly a relevant actor in shaping Turkish asylum policy, Turkey’s decision-making process on this issue is mainly driven by its previous experiences with mass influx of refugees (including 350,000 Bulgarian refugees in 1989 and more than a half million Iraqi Kurdish refugees in 1991). These experiences have been reinforced by the current Syrian crisis which demonstrated, once again, the vulnerability of the Turkish state to mass inflows of refugees from neighbouring unstable and refugee-producing regions. Thus, even though the “Law on Foreigners and International Protection” which was ratified by the Parliament in 2014 established a comprehensive asylum regime for Turkey and complied with most of the requirements of the EU’s asylum regime, it fell short of removing the “geographical limitation” clause from Turkey’s conception of refugees. Turkey only recognizes those who seek asylum due to “events occurring in Europe” and therefore remains as one of very few countries who preserve this geographical limitation clause from the 1951 Geneva Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. The removal of this clause is an essential requirement of the EU for the accession process, and Turkish insistence on retaining this restriction demonstrates the EU’s limitation on exerting pressure on Turkey to liberalize its asylum policy. This paper will attempt to show that the weak possibility of Turkish membership to the EU, its unwillingness to share the burden of Turkey in these humanitarian crisis and the EU’s own securitised approach towards the incoming refugees significantly deteriorates the EU’s capability to transform Turkish asylum policy. The recent Syrian crisis only endorsed the Turkish belief that the EU will not be willing to assist Turkey financially or by hosting some of the refugee population.

The multiple ambiguities of Palestinian refugee camps in Jordan
Lucas Oesch, The University of Manchester

Drawing from Agamben’s thinking, the refugee camp has been captured as an extraterritorial ‘space of exception’ characterised by exclusion derived from a suspension of the laws by the sovereign. Recent works on Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon have critically engaged with this argument, by pointing at the complex and multiple sovereignties at play in the camp. But how does this process occur in the case of Jordan where Palestinian refugee camps and their dwellers are simultaneously excluded and included? By referring to al-Hussein camp in Amman, this paper argues that Palestinian refugee camps benefit from being analysed as spaces of government as well. Focusing on the spatiality of the camp and material practices, it starts by emphasising that camps in Amman are at the same time disciplinary and liberal spaces. It then highlights that in addition to the existence of multiple sovereign actors, the spatiality of the camp is also marked by an hybridization of different rationalities of government. The combined effect of these rationalities in practice is the inclusion of camps within the territory of the Jordanian State, as well as within the modern and neoliberal city of Amman, while maintaining their character of humanitarian and temporary spaces. Palestinian refugee camps in Jordan are thus ‘spaces of multiple ambiguities’ and technologies of differentiation driven by geopolitical considerations.

We the people: The re-emergence of the Palestinian refugee question
Jinan Bastaki, SOAS

The terms liberation (“tahreer”) and resistance (“muqawama”) have long followed the Palestinian cause, and have been umbrella terms for not only the liberation of the whole of Mandate Palestine, but have subsumed within them the issue of the Palestinian refugees. Liberation was the aim and resistance the means by which the status quo ante would be restored, before the creation of the State of Israel and start of the Palestinian exodus. Yet this liberation, in the definition originally envisioned, has not materialized through the resistance tactic of armed struggle that characterized the period until the Palestine Liberation Organization’s expulsion from Lebanon in 1988, nor via negotiation. Since the signing of the Oslo Accords in the 1990s, liberation was replaced by the two-state solution, with the refugees relegated to final status talks. And it is in this post-Oslo period that we see an organic, civil-society based movement aimed explicitly, though not solely, at the return of the Palestinian refugees. Thus “resistance” has taken a new form: whether through physically walking back during various annual demonstrations or employing boycott tactics until Israel complies with its international obligations, “liberation” has returned; but replaced by or renamed to the new rights-based movement.

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