Dr Estella Carpi presents: ‘The Politics of Aid and Aiding in Lebanon and Turkey. What Geography Matters?’

On Wednesday the 3rd of March at 3pm (GMT) Dr Estella Carpi presents at the ‘Sociology Talks Series’ at Koc Universitesi, Turkey. Her presentation, ‘The Politics of Aid and Aiding in Lebanon and Turkey. What Geography Matters?‘ draws on her research conducted for the Southern Responses to Displacement project and examines how people respond to the ‘political geographies’ that define models of assistance in forced migration settings.

A detailed abstract for the presentation, in addition to some recommended reading by Dr Carpi, can be found at the end of this piece.

The event is free and online. For more information and to join the event click here.


Presentation abstract:

Forced migration into the Arab majority Levant and Turkey – earlier from occupied Palestine, then from Sudan and Iraq and, more recently, from Syria – and historical processes of internal displacement (i.e. in Syria, Lebanon and Turkey) raised the importance of humanitarian governance as a key factor in shaping the domestic and transnational politics of crisis management. Drawing on my present research in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey, I will illustrate the epistemological foundations of the ‘Southern-led Responses to Displacement from Syria: Views from Lebanon, Turkey, and Jordan’ project (European Research Council agreement no. 715582). In more detail, I will draw on three case studies to advance my reflections on how people resist, change, or embrace political geographies that have long defined diverse models of assistance in these forced migration settings.

I will first deconstruct the ‘mobility as crisis’ mantra, by showing that border closure during wartime and displacement, and humanitarian compliance with state politics in the region, have actually stopped the fluid livelihoods system between Syria, Lebanon, and Turkey, which historically relied on a longstanding genealogy of border relations and smuggling. Indeed, human mobility has historically sustained border residents, in addition to moulding their border identities. Second, I will discuss how hegemonic humanitarianism dangerously reproduces a moral and professional hierarchy of aid providers. I will bring the example of forms of assistance led by Syrian activists, ex-protesters, and migrant workers in Lebanon. These aid workers, internationally approached as ‘neo-humanitarians’, continuously need to renegotiate their identity and their ways of working with hegemonic humanitarian actors in order to build a professional reputation and to financially survive. Third, I will focus on how local and refugee religious leaders in the region have weaved transnational aid networks to assist displaced people from Syria. In this context, the increasing collaboration of faith leaders with international aid actors often remains marginalized in the official discourse but instrumentalized in practice, with the pretext of building safe and quick access to the people in need.

Recommended Reading:

Dr Carpi’s first book manuscript is titled Specchi Scomodi. Etnografia delle Migrazioni Forzate nel Libano Contemporaneo, and is published in Italian with Mimesis (2019).

Other pieces by Dr Estella Carpi include:

Carpi, E. (2020) Spaces of Transregional Aid and Visual Politics in Lebanon

Carpi, E. (2020) No one wants to be the “Global North”?  On being a researcher across the North and the South.

Carpi, E. (2019) Syrian Faith Leaders in Displacement: Neglected Aid Providers?

Carpi, E. (2019) Intermediaries in Humanitarian Action: The Case of Lebanon

Carpi, E. (2019) Thinking Power Relations across Humanitarian Geographies: Southism as a Mode of Analysis

Carpi E. (2018) ‘Southern’ and ‘Northern’ assistance provision beyond the grand narratives: Views from Lebanese and Syrian providers in Lebanon

Carpi, E. (2018) Empires of Inclusion?

Carpi, E. (2018) In conversation with the Kahkaha project in Lebanon: an effective example of a Southern-led initiative.

2 thoughts on “Dr Estella Carpi presents: ‘The Politics of Aid and Aiding in Lebanon and Turkey. What Geography Matters?’

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  1. Thank you very much for sharing! Are you aware of if there are plans to record this presentation for later viewing? I regret I have an immovable conflict…

    Best regards,


    Jacqueline Salzinger Development and Communications Officer ?? American Center of Research 8 Rashed al-Abadli Street, Tla’a Ali, Amman 11181, Jordan 209 Commerce Street, Alexandria, VA 22314, USA ? Tel.: (+962) 6-534-6117 Tel.: (+1) 703-789-9231 Email: jsalzinger@acorjordan.org http://www.acorjordan.org

    Donate to ACOR today! Annual Fund – Library – Named Fellowships

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    1. Dear Jackie, Thank you so much for your interest. Yes, the presentation will be recorded and we will be posting soon. With all best wishes, The Southern Responses to Displacement team.


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