Syrian Lives Beyond the Refugee Camp: Urban Belonging and Improvising Care in Istanbul


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships




“Syrian Lives Beyond the Refugee Camp” is an ethnography of ordinary ethics and care practices based on 12-months of ethnographic research in the “Little Syria” neighborhoods of Istanbul. This project examines the daily processes whereby Syrian residents of the city create contingent yet extensive care networks among themselves and across the refugee-citizen divide to ensure economic survival, claim urban belonging, and remake Istanbul as a city of Syrians. Despite living with systematic uncertainty that stems from a temporary legal status, economic precarity, and fragile political dynamics, this research shows that Syrians have been able to establish bonds of interdependency while creating spaces of social intimacy. In the process, they have contributed to the emergence of new forms of sociality and urban belonging in the working-class neighborhoods of the city.