The traditional gaze on refugees, and the places and labels associated with them has long been that of a one-way relationship. Specifically, as passive recipients to aid from international actors and the ‘Global North’. Professor Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh’s research has been focused on challenging this assumption and shifting the paradigm towards considering refugees as active rather than passive.
While not a geographer by trade, Professor Fiddian-Qasmiyeh’s research utilises an interdisciplinary approach to thinking about place and space, as well as the actors within. As the name suggests, the tempo-spatial relationality takes varying spatial and temporal scales into consideration in thinking about refugees and the places associated with them.
Her research has been conducted across the ‘Global South’, with a specific focus on the Middle East and North African regions. Some examples include Lebanon, Jordan, Syria and Turkey – and to understand the interrelationships between them and the refugees, and their hosts, within. Additionally, she has been active in writing workshops, allowing those who have been displaced to archive their own experiences from their point of view, effectively empowering them.
In the context of climate change driving additional population displacement and refugee movements, there is a clear impetus to further develop our understanding from a different point of view, effectively challenging the labels that currently define displaced populations. This is especially important for the development of policies that will shape the future of refugees and those who host them.
In addition to leading research projects spanning Jordan, Turkey and Syria, she is the Co-Director of the UCL Migration Research Unit and the Coordinator of the Refuge in a Moving World Research Network.
Professor Fiddian-Qasmiyeh’s work can be followed on multiple platforms, including Twitter: @FiddianQasmiyeh, @RefugeMvingWrld, @RefugeeHosts, @SouthernResp; and individual project websites: www.refugeehosts.org and https://southernresponses.org.