Lebanon hosts the highest number of refugees per capita worldwide and is central to European policies of outsourcing migration management. Hybrid Political Order and the Politics of Uncertainty is the first to critically and comprehensively explore the parallels between the country’s engagement with the recent Syrian refugee influx and the more protracted Palestinian presence.
Drawing on fieldwork, qualitative case-studies, and critical policy analysis, it questions the dominant idea that the haphazardness, inconsistency, and fragmentation of refugee governance are only the result of forced displacement or host state fragility and the related capacity problems. It demonstrates that the endemic ambiguity that determines refugee governance also results from a lack of political will to create coherent and comprehensive rules of engagement to address refugee ‘crises.’
Building on emerging literatures in the fields of critical refugee studies, hybrid governance, and ignorance studies, it proposes an innovative conceptual framework to capture the spatial, temporal, and procedural dimensions of the uncertainty that refugees face and to tease out the strategic components of the reproduction and extension of such informality, liminality, and exceptionalism. In developing the notion of a ‘politics of uncertainty,’ ambiguity is explored as a component of a governmentality that enables the control, exploitation, and expulsion of refugees.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Institutional Ambiguity and the Politics of Uncertainty: A New Perspective on Refugee Governance
1. The Lebanese State: Twilight Institutions and the Making of Hybrid Order
2. The Governance of Syrian Refugees in Lebanon: No-Policy-Policy and Formal Informality
3. Governing Syrian ‘Informal Tented Settlements’ in Lebanon: Co-opted Shawishes, Elusive Permissions, and the Specter of Eviction
4. The Governance Palestinian Refugees in Lebanon: Permanent Temporariness and the State of Exception
5. Governing Lebanon’s Palestinian ‘Gatherings:’ Forsaken Settlements, Disowned Committees, and Looming Displacement
6. Knowledge and Power Revisited: The Politics of Uncertainty as Maintaining, Feigning, and Imposing ‘Ignorance’
Reflections and Contributions – Critically Studying Refugeeness, Governance, and Strategic Ambiguity in Lebanon and Beyond
Nora Stel is Assistant Professor in Conflict Studies at Radboud University Nijmegen. She studies the politics of knowledge and in/formality in governance of and by displaced people. Her work has been published by, among others, Journal of Refugee Studies, Development and Change, and Antipode.