An Anthropological Approach to Understanding Perceptions, Aspirations, and Behavior of Refugees, Practitioners, and Host Community Members in Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey
Author/s: Dawn Chatty
Year: 2017 Vol: 2 Number: 1
Twice in modern history, Syria and its peoples have experienced massive displacement. First, in the mid- to late 19th century, Syria received several million forced migrants from the frontiers of the Ottoman Empire; then in the early 21st century, Syria disintegrated into extreme violence, triggering a displacement crisis of massive proportions. The speed with which the country emptied of nearly 10% of its population shocked the world and left the humanitarian aid regime in turmoil as agencies struggled to respond to the growing displacement crisis on Syria’s borders. The neighboring states of Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan were also left in a quandary regarding how to effectively protect these people who were seeking refuge. No country granted the displaced refugee status; each established temporary measures to deal with this crisis. In many cases, neither the displaced nor the host communities were consulted, and thus, tensions quickly emerged among host communities, displaced Syrians, and humanitarian policy makers and practitioners. This study has two aims: first, it sets out to explore how effectively a qualitative, interpretive methodology can be applied to elicit the different perceptions and aspirations of Syria’s refugees, humanitarian assistance practitioners, and host communities during the most recent crisis, and second, it seeks to probe what sociohistorical factors related to the host communities might, when circumstances permit, positively contribute to the reintegration of Syrian society post–conflict.