The Bartlett Development Planning Unit


Hannah Sender

Name: Hannah Sender
Nationality: British
Thesis: Growing up in a town shaped by displacement: young people, their spatial practices and their futures in Bar Elias, Lebanon
Key Topics: Youth, subjectivity, futures, displacement, Lebanon, Middle East


Having studied for a BA and MA in English Literature, I made the switch to urban planning after working with artists in Phnom Penh, whose work on the city shone a light on social injustices around urban development [see http://sasabassac.com/]. I recently completed an MSc in Urban Development Planning at the Development Planning Unit. Since 2015, I have worked at the Institute for Global Prosperity, working with young people in London and in Bar Elias, Lebanon. I draw upon this diverse work and educational experience in my PhD.

My PhD research is a place-based study in Bar Elias, Lebanon, Bar Elias is a town in the Beqaa Valley that has changed since the arrival of tens of thousands of displaced people from Syria following the outbreak of civil war in 2011. Young people living in and around Bar Elias are becoming adult in a time and space characterised by urban change and movement across international and local borders. Whether or not they have been physically displaced, young people’s everyday lives are affected by the socio-spatial conditions of displacement that are unique to Bar Elias. Young people engage in spatial practices, which allow them to get by in, navigate and change these socio-spatial conditions, as they attempt to define themselves and their own futures.

By developing a thick description of who young people spend time with, what they do, where they go to do it, and how they get there, I aim to answer the following research question:

How are young people’s spatial practices, subjectivities and orientations toward the future affected by the socio-spatial conditions of displacement in Bar Elias?

I am working with young people between 15-18 years old with diverse experiences of displacement (including those who have not been displaced in their lifetimes), and whose subjectivities cut across different identities (including abled and disabled girls and boys from different faith, national and economic backgrounds). I am co-creating soundscapes with these young people, as well as with local adult residents, to address my research question. Through this research, I demonstrate the importance of displacement to towns like Bar Elias, not only to young people who live there, but also to the vitality of the town and its future.

Primary supervisor: Professor Haim Yacobi
Secondary Supervisor: Dr Christopher Harker

Web profiles:

ESRC-Doctoral Training Partnership Studentship (2018-2021)
Projects, Planning and Advocacy Manager, UCL Institute for Global Prosperity