Call for Papers: Refugee Self-Support and Local Markets in ‘Host’ Cities


(Zaatari Refugee Camp, Northern Jordan)

Call for Papers: “Beyond Crisis: Rethinking Refugee Studies”

Refugee Studies Centre, Keble College Oxford, 16 and 17 March 2017

Panel abstract for the theme “Autonomy and Assistance”: Refugee Self-Support and Local Markets in ‘Host’ Cities

As refugees increasingly become part of the city fabric in receiving countries, not only governments and aid agencies become involved in providing assistance and protection: a large range of non-conventional humanitarian actors develop autonomous responses in absence of – or in addition to – conventional assistance. These actors include private providers and informal, self-organised response, initiated by refugee populations themselves and/or local civil society.

Moreover, the direct and increasing participation of non-citizens in the set of political and economic relations has engendered sizeable changes in the markets of the “host” societies, being the lives of (un)forced migrants and citizens enmeshed through space and livelihood sharing. This further unearths the inappropriateness of sorting non-citizens in specific taxonomies of need and legal status.

In this framework, the panel starts with the assumption that humanitarian organisations must seek to adapt their approaches to supporting refugees in cities, which necessarily requires asking challenging questions around the appropriateness and relevance of their contribution to sustainable solutions – and, perhaps even, their very legitimacy to operate in certain urban spheres in the first place.

We look for papers which investigate the co-presence of (in)formal providers, city authorities, and (un)forced migrants in local markets of commodities, services, housing, or labour. Papers can have different focuses and approaches, such as the following:

– The socio-economic implications for refugees of the power relations between local and humanitarian resources in the receiving countries.

– The public and humanitarian policy implications of informal refugee support mechanisms in markets.

– Problematising notions like “self-reliance” and “autonomy” in top-down models of aid provision.

If you are interested in presenting a paper on this panel, please send a 200-word abstract by November 14 2016 to Estella Carpi, Postdoctoral Research Associate at the Development Planning Unit (University College London) and Humanitarian Affairs Advisor at Save the Children UK, at

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