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Cultural events provide insight into urban organisation of migrants

By Camille Dupire - Apr 29,2018 - Last updated at Apr 29,2018

The cultural programme looks into the urban organisation of migrants inside cities like Amman (Photo by Camille Dupire)

AMMAN — The French Institute of the Near East (Ifpo) Amman on Sunday kicked off a series of cultural events under the theme "Forced migration and social integration in Jordan and the Middle East", which aims to promote the debate of ideas around the impact of refugee influxes on urban organisation.

Funded by the Alembert Fund, a programme of the French ministry of foreign affairs aimed at enhancing debates between experts and members of the public on various topics, the lectures started off with the inauguration of "The Durable Ephemeral", an exhibition of architects' drawings and photos on the forms of housing used by migrants in and outside refugee camps.

Noting that "the residence of Syrian refugees in Jordan has been studied extensively from a humanitarian perspective", architect Rand El Haj Hasan highlighted the interest of the exhibition in disclosing the research conducted by scholars and architects on refugees' efforts to create their own place, "revealing them as architects themselves, capable of inventing homes no matter how austere are the means available". 

Held in Jadal for Communication and Culture in Jabal Luweibdeh, the exhibition displayed the variety of housing materials employed in refugee settings including caravans, tents, water tanks, barbed wires, etc

“It was really interesting to see the diversity of tools used to set up temporary communities, including much unexpected ones such as stones or gravel. I learned a lot about the technicalities of ephemeral architectures, and the attention to details needed in such arrangements,” Waleed Abu Nayef told The Jordan Times after the exhibition. 

El Haj Hasan co-organised the exhibition alongside experts from Germany, Beirut and Ifpo Amman, with the aim of "exploring the sociopolitical dynamic of migration and its impact on the region at recurrent times from a wider comparative perspective", she told The Jordan Times.

She said the “Durable Ephemeral” will also benefit future research by being shared with more scholars studying the regional phenomenon of engineering plotting rolls.

“Distinct from strictly academic events, the debates of ideas involve members of the civil society and are designed according to a partnership involving local public and private partners, as well as stakeholders from diverse backgrounds who are likely to weigh in public decision-making,” an official from the Alembert Fund said.

The cultural programme also includes two round tables involving Jordanian, French and international researchers and professionals who will provide an insight into the role of humanitarian organisations in the region, and on the influence of refugees on the urban organisation of cities around the Kingdom. 

The first lecture, will be held today under the moderation of Lea Macias from the School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences (EHESS) in Paris, will see the participation of Hanalia Ferhan, ACTED country director, Luc Le Cabellec, head of the French Agency for Development in Jordan, Mohic Alwahsh, project manager at Mercy Corps, researcher Maria Logrono and Tala Malakha, a cash and livelihood adviser for the Danish Refugee Council in Jordan.

The second roundtable will include architects, educators, theatre directors, urban planners and heads of local organisations, according to a statement by the organisers.

“These lectures take a multidisciplinary look at the migratory phenomena in Jordan and the region, and aim to promote the debate of ideas between people working in and being affected by the field of migration,” Ifpo said in the statement.

The programme is scheduled to conclude with a screening of documentary films on migrants on May 2 at the French Institute in Amman.

Ifpo is part of the network of French research centres abroad, present in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Jerusalem. The institute works in the field of research, dissemination of knowledge, cooperation with local and international institutions, in all areas of civilisations of the Middle East, ancient and modern, according to its website.

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