Channelling (in)security: governing movement and ordinary life in ‘imagined geographies’

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This article is led by a specific ethnographic encounter on a public bus from Amman towards Zaatari village in northern Jordan. I use this moment on a bus as an entry point from which to examine how Syrian urban refugees and their security are constituted by everyday encounters in seemingly banal spaces. From the vantage point of a bus journey, this article explores how urban refugees in northern Jordan are channelled in specific and violent ways by the Government of Jordan (GoJ) in relation to the geographies where they reside. Drawing on fieldwork with urban refugees living in Zaatari village, the article is shaped by three main points: (1) Refugees are not static, or fixed in spaces of the camp, but rather on-the-move. The journey taken depicts a particular precarity constituting the everyday insecurity of refugees living outside of camps. (2) Their movement is embedded in the wider mechanisms of state and humanitarian governance which increases the precarity of urban refugee mobility. (3) The precarity surrounding urban refugees is further compounded by the geographies they reside in. This article opens new lines of enquiry into urban refugee security and how experiences of (in)security may be better understood.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages22
JournalBritish Journal of Middle Eastern Studies
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 6 Feb 2024


  • Urban Refugees, Jordan, Insecurity

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