Project Description:

Policy Mobilities, International Aid and Planning: Regionalism and Refugee Policies in Lebanon

LSE Academic Collaboration with Arab Universities Programme project with the American University Beirut, funded through the Emirates Foundation, Middle East Centre (LSE) from 2014-16.

Principal Investigators
Dr Romola Sanyal (Department of Geography and Environment, LSE)
Dr Mona Harb (American University of Beirut)
Dr Mona Fawaz (American University of Beirut)

Project Abstract

While there has been considerable literature looking at policy mobilities including issues of transfer of policy ideas, models and techniques, these studies have remained somewhat narrow in their scope,  stopping short of conceptualizing changing forms and scales of governmentality in cities and regions, and considering how planners and experts learn and contribute to these transformations and transfers.

In our project, we are keen to embed a critical approach to policy mobilities in a wider reflection on regionalism, refugee policies, and planning. Indeed, while ideas of regionalism and refugee policies have come to Lebanon through international donors and humanitarian agencies, there are actual local and regional practices and policies incorporating a range of actors—municipalities, municipal unions, NGOs, experts, activists and scholars—taking place on the ground. Some of these actors are operating as planners, elaborating spatial strategies at a large territorial scale, trying to identify productive sectors of development. Others are operating in a crisis-response mode providing shelter, basic services and small scale infrastructure to refugees and host communities, to help contain and manage the urgent humanitarian crisis and its potential long term effects. In the process, there is an attempt to develop infrastructure in local areas to benefit host communities that have been deprived of critical services.

The project thus seeks to understand how international aid and policy mobilities affect, on the one hand, refugee policies, the delivery of shelter and services, and on the other hand, spatial planning and scales of urban governance in Lebanon. We are also keen on understanding what are the socio-spatial and political effects (planning-relevant) of these changing planning practices in Lebanon? How does aid help us rethink the forms and entanglements of sovereignty between actors such as the EU, UN, international donors, municipalities, municipal unions, NGOs and political parties? How is this changing and negotiating the hegemonic political configurations dominating the Lebanese territory? How is urbanization unfolding against the backdrop of crisis? For further information, please visit: