Refugee Urbanism: Emerging Geographies of Displacement and Cities

Date and time
Monday 15th November 2010
6 for 6.15 pm


Refugee Urbanism: Emerging Geographies of Displacement and Cities

Romola Sanyal (Newcastle University)

Sharad Chari (LSE)


The 21st century is the urban century with half the world’s population living in cities and more to do so in the years to come. Cities are witnessing unprecedented levels of growth particularly in the global south where increasing numbers of people are moving to cities for a variety of
reasons. Urban theorists have tried to explain the emergence of new kinds of urbanisms and urban politics through a variety of different theoretical models. Among these have been neo-liberalism (Peck and Tickell), informality (AlSayyad and Roy) and ‘ordinary’ (Robinson). Indeed urbanization in this century has been a culmination of a number of different issues, from the spread of neo-liberalism and structural adjustment, to the rise of urban informality and the importance of cities in the global south as being the new models on which urbanity can be
understood. In many ways, these issues are interlinked, as the fates of urban residents particularly the poor, rest on their push and pull influences. Drawing on the work of above-mentioned authors, this paper is an attempt to suggest yet another way of understanding the question of
urbanization. I argue here that perhaps ‘the camp’ or rather ‘refugee urbanism’ can be another lens through which the condition of the city, particularly those parts of the city inhabited by the urban poor can be understood.
I will look at what current theorizations of refugee camps
exist, how refugee camps urbanize, and what dialogues can take place between refugee studies and the urbanization of developing countries.