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DisplacementGlobal conversations on refuge$
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Silvia Pasquetti and Romola Sanyal

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781526123466

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.7765/9781526123473

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The global refugee camp: coinciding locales of refuge among Sahrawi refugees in North Africa

The global refugee camp: coinciding locales of refuge among Sahrawi refugees in North Africa

(p.153) 8 The global refugee camp: coinciding locales of refuge among Sahrawi refugees in North Africa

Konstantina Isidoros

Manchester University Press

This chapter is an ethnography study of the Sahrawi people living in refugee camps in the Algerian desert. It examines the mutual perceptions and social interactions between the Sahrawi people and the humanitarians visiting them. The chapter highlights the intricate interplay of legal, spatial and political meanings variably attached to categories such as ‘nomads’, ‘refugees’, ‘citizens’ and ‘statehood’ in such perceptions and interactions. In the process, it unsettles dominant assumptions about what and who is ‘local’ and what and who is ‘global’. The chapter also problematises assumptions about the relative distribution of vulnerability and agentic power in the encounters in the Algerian desert between Sahrawi refugees and humanitarian actors mainly coming from the Global North. The latter are those in need of orientation and reassurance as they negotiate the difficult geopolitical terrain of the Algerian desert. Further, the chapter identifies and studies the tension in meanings and perceptions that marks the interactions between the Sahrawi people and the humanitarian actors visiting them: the former greet the humanitarians in their camps putting forward an image of the camps as sociospatial formations of statehood-in-waiting, while the latter experience the camps as (supposedly temporary) spaces of refuge in need of humanitarian aid.

Keywords:   Sahrawi refugees, nomads, camps, statehood, global humanitarianism, transnational solidarity activism, refugee politics

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