‘Walking the margins with Sudanese forced migrants in Cairo’.
Steve Thorpe, University of East London.
Tuesday December 10th, 5.00-6.30.
The Library, Thomas Coram Research Unit, Institute of Education, University of London, 27-8 Woburn Square, London WC1H OAA.
Research into urban forced migration phenomena has tended to focus on a limited range of ‘refugee issues’ such as livelihood strategies, access to resources and legal and psychosocial issues, with the aim of affecting policy. Symptomatically, the city has often been rendered a passive and inert surface upon which the drama of human life is played out. The role of the city itself — in its intra-activity with forced migrant communities — has largely been ignored. In this paper, I explore some of the questions and implications of a research strategy that takes the intra-actions between marginalised groups and the environments in which they live seriously. Drawing on 14 months of fieldwork in Cairo — a city in the midst of massive social and political upheaval — and on spatial narratives collected by walking the city with Sudanese forced migrants, I explore the benefits and challenges of operationalising mobile methods and walking interviews in such a context. I argue that exploring everyday practices and tactics using mobile methods can reveal a complex terrain of ‘imperceptible politics’ hitherto absent from the literature. I suggest that by walking the city in this way, it may be possible to develop a more comprehensive understanding of urban forced migration and forced migrant relations to the cities in which they live, thus opening new perspectives from which to engage urban refugee policy.
Steve Thorpe is a PhD student at the University of East London where he is completing his research on the relationship between Sudanese forced migrants and the city in which they live – Cairo, Egypt.