This article draws on research with and about refugees from across the Middle East and North Africa and examines the current Syrian refugee crisis through the tropes of visibility and invisibility. Adopting a deconstructive framework, it purposefully centralizes what has previously been assigned a peripheral position throughout the ever-expanding “archive of knowledge” (following Foucault) vis-à-vis particular refugee situations and critically interrogates how, why, and with what effect only certain bodies, identity markers, and models of humanitarian response become hypervisible in the European public sphere. The article starts by tracing the roles of visibility and invisibility in constituting the “ideal refugee” (and the concomitant figure of the “a-refugee”), before turning to refugee-refugee humanitarianism as an invisible form of Southern-led (rather than Northern-led or Northern-dominated) responses to displacement from Syria.
Repressentations of Displacement from the Middle East and North Africa
Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh is a lecturer in human geography, a codirector of the Migration Research Unit, and the coordinator of the Refuge in a Moving World research network, University College London. Her research examines the intersections between gender, religion, and forced migration, with a focus on the Middle East. Her recent publications include The Ideal Refugees: Gender, Islam, and the Sahrawi Politics of Survival (2014) and South-South Educational Migration, Humanitarianism, and Development (2015). She is a coeditor of The Oxford Handbook of Refugee and Forced Migration Studies (2014).
Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh; Repressentations of Displacement from the Middle East and North Africa. Public Culture 1 September 2016; 28 (3 (80)): 457–473. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/08992363-3511586
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