Space of Refuge


Wednesday 15th March 2017, 10:00 - 17:00


The symposium will situate the issue of Palestinian refugees as a precursor of urgent matters of ‘refuge’ on a wider scale around the world.The latter will include discussions of conflict, resolution, protracted refugee status, host country policies, relationships between refugees and host countries, spatial production within refugee camps, socio-economic behaviour, cultural practices, and such like.


 Main speakers include:

Dr Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh: Reader in Human Geography (UCL Department of Geography) and Co-Director of the Migration Research Unit; Coordinator of UCL's Refuge in a Moving World Research Network

Dr Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh is Reader in Human Geography and Co-Director of the Migration Research Unit at University College London, where she is also the Coordinator of UCL's Refuge in a Moving World interdisciplinary research network (@RefugeMvingWrld). Elena's research focuses on lived experiences and representations of, and diverse responses to, conflict-induced displacement, with a particular regional focus on the Middle East and North Africa. She has conducted extensive research in refugee camps and urban areas including in Algeria, Cuba, Egypt,  Lebanon and Syria. In 2015 she was awarded a Philip Leverhulme Prize in recognition of her research into diverse humanitarian responses to displacement in the Middle East. She is the PI of a new major AHRC-ESRC funded project, 'Local Community Experiences of and Responses to Displacement from Syria' (see www.refugeehosts.org, @RefugeeHosts), which involves research in 9 communities across Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey. In 2016 she was also awarded a further major European Research Council award for her 5-year project, South-South Humanitarian Responses to Displacement from Syria.


Dr Camillo Boano: Director of MSc Building and Urban Design in Development (UCL Development Planning Unit). UCL UrbanLab Co-Director. Senior Lecturer

Camillo’s research interests are focused on urban development, contested urbanism, socio-spatial dialectics, design and urban transformations, shelter and housing reconstruction in conflicted areas, divided cities and post-disaster environments. More recently his specific interests on urban design were directed to the reconstruction of design through dissensus, calling for a deeper reorientation between politics and aesthetics, drawing on the theoretical constructions of Lefebvre, Foucault, and Rancière.


Dr Adam Ramadan: Lecturer in Human Geography, School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, Birmingham University

Adam Ramadan’s work lies at the intersection between political and cultural geography. It addresses the ‘everyday’ of geopolitics, how ordinary people understand and negotiate their position within broader geopolitical dynamics. Much of this work has focused on the Middle East, and in particular on refugee issues. Dr Ramadan’s principal current research project looks at how the ‘Middle East conflict’ is manifested, understood and negotiated in the everyday lives of ordinary people. In particular, he has worked with Palestinian refugees living in camps in Lebanon, seeking to understand how refugee camps are constructed as political and cultural spaces, and how refugees negotiate geographies of exclusion and conflict in their everyday lives.


Dr Romola Sanyal: Assistant Professor of Urban Geography, Director of BA Geography, Department of Geography and Environment, LSE

Dr Sanyal joined LSE in 2013 from the Development Planning Unit at UCL. She has previously taught at Rice University, Texas, and Newcastle University. She is interested in architecture, urban geopolitics, urban theory, housing and citizenship rights. She has written on the politics of space in refugee settlements in the global South with a particular focus on Lebanon and India.

Romola's current research work looks at the urbanization of particular areas in Lebanon through humanitarian aid that has come in response to the Syrian refugee crisis. Dr Sanyal obtained her PhD at the University of California, Berkeley.


Samar Maqusi: PhD Architectural Design,, Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL

Samar is an architect and urban specialist with 10+ years of experience in international development, including urban planning and development in conflict-areas. In 2008, Samar moved to Jordan to work with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), where she still holds the post of Architect/ Physical Planner. Currently, Samar is conducting her PhD studies at the Bartlett School of Architecture in London, investigating the spatial politics of the Palestine refugee camp(s) from their inception as scattered relief tents, to the highly dense and urbanized architectural form they have become today. The research focuses on investigating the production of space throughout the 68 years of existence, and the impact on political and spatial negotiations it has provided with the Host Governments, mainly focusing on Jordan and Lebanon. Samar is also currently involved in documentary filmmaking, and has exhibited her photography in the US.


Dr Elaine Chase: Senior Lecturer in Education, Health and International Development, UCL Institute of Education

Dr Elaine Chase is Senior Lecturer in Education, Health Promotion and International Development in the Department of Education, Practice and Society at UCL-Institute of Education. Her research interests include the intersection between migration and wellbeing outcomes. Her current research investigates the outcomes for independent migrant and refugee children as they make the transition to ‘adulthood’.


Dr. Estella Carpi: Research Associate, The Bartlett Development Planning Unit, UCL

Estella is Research Associate at UCL-Development Planning Unit and Humanitarian Affairs Advisor at Save the Children UK. She is a social anthropologist who is coordinating a new project, Human, Economic, and Social Flows Beyond Crisis at UCL. Her research interests lie primarily in humanitarianism, refugee migration, welfare, and politics of aid.




Murray Fraser: Professor of Architecture & Global Culture, Vice-Dean of Research, Bartlett Faculty of the Built Environment

Murray has published extensively on architectural design, architectural history & theory, urbanism, globalisation, post-colonialism, design research and cultural studies. He is General Editor for the 21st edition of Sir Banister Fletcher's Global History of Architecture (Bloomsbury).

As a qualified architect, he set up the Palestinian Regeneration Team (PART) to carry out a range of design projects in the West Bank and Gaza Strip along with Dr Yara Sharif and Dr Nasser Golzari. PART’s contribution to the regeneration project for the historic centre of Birzeit, near Ramallah, carried out to great acclaim by RIWAQ -- a leading Palestinian NGO involved in historic conservation -- won a 2013 Aga Khan Award for Architecture.







Space of Refuge Symposium – Timetable

10.00-11.00 Introduction & Welcome by Prof Murray Fraser (Professor of Architecture & Global Culture, Vice-Dean of Research, UCL Bartlett Faculty of the Built Environment)

Guided tour of the installation ‘Space of Refuge’ as idea and reality

11.00 – 12.30

First Session – Departure

Session Chair: Giovanna Astolfo (Teaching Fellow, Building and Urban Design in Development, The Bartlett Development Planning Unit, UCL)
This session is concerned with discussing the ongoing movement of refugees globally, and the material, social, political conditions that contribute to refuge, and thus become attributes of refuge itself.

Dr Elaine Chase (Senior Lecturer in Education, Health and International Development, UCL Institute of Education)

Dr Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh (Reader in Human Geography and Co-Director of the Migration Research Unit, UCL Department of Geography)

Dr Romola Sanyal (Assistant Professor of Urban Geography, Department of Geography and Environment, LSE)

 12.30 – 13.30 Lunch Break

13.30 – 15.00  Second Session – Spatiality
This session will analyze scenarios of refuge space, historically and currently, spatially and politically (especially refugee‐host country relations), and showcase the material realities that exist today.

Session Chair: Murray Fraser (Bartlett Architecture)

Huda Tayob (PhD Architectural History & Theory, Teaching Fellow, History & Theory, Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL)

Dr Camillo Boano (Senior Lecturer and Co-Director of the UCL UrbanLab, The Bartlett Development Planning Unit, UCL)

Samar Maqusi (PhD Architectural Design, Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL)

15.00 – 16.30 Third Session – Protraction
This session discusses spaces of refuge at the crossroads of space/time, whereby the former becomes a product of the latter, both being victims to a lack of political will. The question to be asked, however, is what would a political resolution really mean to a protracted space of refuge?

Session Chair: Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh (UCL Geography)

Dr Estella Carpi (Research Associate, The Bartlett Development Planning Unit, UCL)

Dr Adam Ramadan (Lecturer in Human Geography, School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, Birmingham University)

Film Screening/Skype with Waleed Jum’ah & Mohammad Nabulsi from Baqa’a refugee camp, Jordan

16.30 – 16.45 Coffee Break 

16.45 – 17.30 Open Discussion

17.30 Closing Remarks and Reception 




This project is supported by UCL’s Grand Challenges, UCL’s Institute of Advanced Studies, UCL’s Refuge in a Moving World and Hub Collective.