Architectures of Asylum – Making a Home in a State of Permanent Temporariness.

Tuesday, 17 July 2018: 08:30
Oral Presentation
Anna STEIGEMANN, TU Berlin, Germany
Philipp MISSELWITZ, Technical University Berlin (TU Berlin), Germany
Urban and social research in Germany has started to address the socio-spatial distribution and architectures of so-called collective accommodations for asylum seekers, refugee camps, and new forms of ethnic segregation triggered by refugee movements just recently. The spatial agency of refugees themselves within these processes has not yet been a subject of substantive research.

Combining research methods from social and architectural sciences, the paper investigates the physical, material, social, and symbolic appropriation processes by Syrian refugees currently housed in humanitarian settings in Jordan and Germany. What spatial knowledge is mobilized at the place of asylum in order to turn the accommodation into a home? How does this knowledge hybrizide practices of the place of origin, experiences made during the flight and the arriving and uncertain period of stay at an unfamiliar place of asylum? What is the relationship between the subjective experiences of space and home, which have been collected in different places and contexts? How do spatial appropriation processes collide with humanitarian logics and technocratic emergency management approaches at the place of asylum? For refugee accommodations in Berlin, Germany and Zaatari, Jordan, the paper focuses on the ways in which refugees perceive, adapt to, appropriate, and alter their new urban environment physically and socially and of how they thereby draw on existing and evolving stocks of urban knowledge, urban experiences, and social relationships. It argues that for developing a home-like space, arriving refugees mobilize knowledge at the place of asylum which can only be understood as a re-figuration process that is equally at work in the case of other migrants, migration and translocal processes. A study of these urban re-figurations also reveals how the interplay of refugees'a agency and their knowledge and the technocratic regime and state of permanent temporariness affect the making of a "home."