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Refugees in a Space of Agency: Asserting Citizenship Despite Control

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1 Refugees in a Space of Agency: Asserting Citizenship Despite Control
Janna Miletzki, LSE, Human Geography

2 Background Refugee Policies in Tanzania
Tanzania: largest refugee population in Africa In this study: Burundian refugees Nyerere and ujamaa policies 1973 Open-door policy Increasing restrictiveness Refugee Act of 1998 Surprising move since 2007: Grant citizenship to >160,000 Burundian refugees on a collective basis, relocation and settlement is supposed to be closed; 20% of refugees repatriated in 2008/09

3 Research Question and Design
To what extent is Ulyankulu settlement a “space of agency“? Ethnography: one year field work in Ulyankulu settlement in Tanzania Participant observation Interviews


5 Methodology Participant observation
Public places: Market, Churches, Schools, Court Market Place, Ulyankulu settlement, Tanzania Photo: Janna Miletzki 06/2012

6 Methodology Interviews Government officials  Various levels
International organisations  Dar es Salaam/Ulyankulu Refugees  1st and 2nd generation Local Tanzanian population In and around Ulyankulu UNHCR, Ulyankulu settlement, Tanzania Photo: Janna Miletzki 06/2012 Settlement Commander’s office , Ulyankulu settlement, Tanzania Photo: Janna Miletzki 06/2012

7 Theory (1) The Camp as a Space of Control
State control in organised rural refugee settlements is exerted spatially, legally, and temporally Spatially, the settlement area is made legible and rational (Scott 1998) - The form is understandable for outsiders by using a grid structure - Grouping people of the same nationality together (Armstrong 1990) Legally, in terms of exclusion from citizenship: no voting rights, no freedom of movement, no right to work. Temporally, the state makes refugees wait for its decisions “Waiting is one of the (…) ways of experiencing the effect of power, and the link between time and power” (Bourdieu 2000)

8 Theory (2) The Camp as a Space of Agency
Agency can be used abiding by the rule of law or by subverting it Agency can be destructive: e.g. Refugee militarism (Stein and Clark 1990) Agency can also be constructive: e.g. Building houses (Sanyal 2011; Ramadan 2013)  Agency to assert citizenship and belonging An agent, as consistent with practice theory, is here seen as a body/mind, who “carries” and “carries out” social practices, which make up the social world (Reckwitz 2002)



11 Formal Legal and Spatial Control
Freedom of Movement: Refugees to live in designated areas (Refugee Act of 1998) Political Rights: Voting, putting oneself forward as a candidate, assembling for political purposes (refugees, as non-citizens are not included in the rights spelled out by the Constitution) Working: Small income generating activities (National Refugee Policy of 2003) Material control: Animals slaughtered, vehicles taken (Refugee Act of 1998); Owning permanent houses in the settlement

12 Contradictory Security Concerns as Justification
Central Government: General links to Burundi are feared; Better to relocate refugees in order to integrate them and diffuse the security threat “Yes, there are other reasons [for the relocation], like security concerns. It is easy for them to go back to Burundi and to be influenced by other relatives. As Burundians they like to go to Burundi. Now they are Tanzanians, there is no need to go back to Burundi.” Regional Commission: Fear of armed robbery; Not willing to integrate refugees “Tabora has become quite unsafe. When the refugees came from Rwanda and Burundi, they came with weapons. We don’t have a civil war here. […] We are fed up with them.”  Contradictions delay decisions

13 Whose Security? National versus Human Security
Source: Paris 2001

14 Whose Security? National versus Human Security
Source: Paris 2001

15 Control as a Threat to Human Security
Risking to go to prison when outside of the settlement without a permit Refugees sometimes need to go without a permit to seek health treatment or to work  endangering health and economic security Local Tanzanians arrested, who employ refugees: “I could not succeed to finish [my studies] because my father was taken to prison because he employed Hutus on his farm […]”

16 The Camp as a Space of Agency Formally Asserting Citizenship
Belonging: First Generation “I applied because my whole education I did here; I know nothing about Burundi; I was very young when I came here” “I was living here [in Ulyankulu/Tanzania] very well; there is no peace there [in Burundi]” Belonging: Second Generation Being born in Tanzania “I would be happy [to be a Tanzanian]. When you finish Form 4, your certificate shows that you are a Burundian; if people see that you are a Hutu, they will not employ you outside of the settlement and if possible, they will send you back to the settlement”  Belonging and practical advantages as reasons to apply for citizenship

17 The Camp as a Space of Agency Informally Asserting Citizenship
3) They hide their refugee status, ethnicity and Burundian nationality Language “My parents live close to the Sukumaland, so I learned it myself by talking to them. In church in Kashishi [next to Ulyankulu], we were praying and preaching in Kisukuma – even the bible was in Kisukuma” Ethnicity Claiming a Tanzanian ethnicity Documentation No documentation of legal status Obtaining documentation such as voting IDs: “(I got it) In Sikonge, last year. (…) I said that I am from Sikonge. My aunt married there; I went there to visit her”

18 Conclusions Interdisciplinary research:
Methods from human geography, theoretical insights from geography, sociology and citizenship studies help to answer the research question Findings: Show how state control is expressed in security narratives, which are sometimes in tension and delay decisions State control endangers refugees’ human security Refugees themselves use their agency, by abiding by the law, for example to obtain citizenship formally; but when it is detrimental to live the lives they want to live, they break the law to overcome control in order to assert their citizenship informally  The camp is a hybrid space, encompassing both control and agency; agency is seen as a threat and thus control is increased Contribution: creating a new cosmos of understanding protracted rural refugee situations, by trying to understand the interplay between control and agency Concluding Ideas: Refugees are in effect, creating their own solution to the problem of a “protracted refugee solution”

19 Bibliography Agamben, G. (2005) State of Exception, Chicago: University of Chicago Press Armstrong, Allen (1990) Evolving approaches to planning and management of refugee settlements: The Tanzanian experience, Ekistics 342 May/June and 343 July/August Bourdieu, P. (2000) Pascalian Meditations. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. Paris, Roland (2001) Human Security: Paradigm Shift or Hot Air? International Security, 26(2): Ramadan, A. (2013) Spatialising the refugee camp, Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 38: 65-77 Reckwitz, … (2002 ) Toward a Theory of Social Practice – A Development in Culturalist Theorizing, European Journal of Social Theory 5(2): Sanyal, R. (2011). Squatting in Camps: Building and Insurgency in Spaces of Refuge. Urban Studies: an international journal for research in urban studies, 48 (5). Scott, James C. (1998) Seeing like a State, New Haven and London: Yale University Press Stein, Barry N. and Lance Clark (1990) Refugee Integration and Older Refugee Settlements in Africa, paper presented at the 1990 meeting of the American Anthropolical Association, New Orleans 28 November 1990, UNHCR (2012) Ulyankulu Briefing Note, Dar es Salaam

20 Thank you for your attention!
Ulyankulu Settlement, Photo: Janna Miletzki 08/2012

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