Frantic waiting: NGO anti-politics and "timepass" for young Syrian refugees in Jordan

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Drawing on Sukarieh and Tannock's political economy of youth approach, this paper explores how Syrian refugee youth is constituted in protracted displacement in Jordan. It investigates a juvenile population often overlooked in Forced Migration Studies, disenfranchised rural Syrians, who fail to develop practices of youthfulness, yet in exile are subjected to alternative productions of youth by the aid sector. Depoliticized NGO youth programming overlooks Syrians' limited access to the labour market and higher education. While educational trainings aim to produce entrepreneurial and citizen refugees, they ultimately contribute to the creation of timepass and precarious lives. This research is grounded in fourteen months of ethnographic fieldwork with Syrian refugees in a border town in northern Jordan.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)107-121
JournalMiddle East - Topics and Arguments
Publication statusPublished - 8 Dec 2017


  • Syrian refugee crisis
  • Jordan
  • rural livelihoods
  • urban displacement
  • NGO youth politics
  • timepass


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