UCL Grand Challenges


The Normalization of Purgatories

Exploring Urban Inequalities in The Shatila Refugee Camp.

Row of cloth tents

2 October 2019


Grant: Grand Challenges Doctoral Students' Small Grants
Year awarded: 2019-20
Amount awarded: £2,500


  • James Shraiky, Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geomatic Engineering, Engineering
  • Ledia Andrawes, Institute for Global Prosperity, Bartlett

The project aimed to critique the assumptions regarding refugee camps spatiality, roles, and functions in comparison to camp-resident practices, exploring Syrian and Palestinian refugees’ environmental practices in The Shatila Refugee Camp in Lebanon. Residents were asked to photograph intimate details of everyday living and how they practice prosperity concepts within camp spatialities. The pictures will be thematically analyzed as the results will give a voice to refugees’ practices in camps while providing the empirical path to use their ideologies as an impetus for policy change around camp designs and operations.

By giving voices to refugees and creating a foundation for potential policy changes, the outcome of this project aim to pave the way for improving the quality of lives for refugees in camps as well as inform the building of better encampment environments. The project will next be convening policymakers to discuss changes around camp designs and operations. 

As a result of the project, the team also identified several public engagements projects that focus on cultural heritage and urban inequalities in the camp - successfully applying for follow up grants to accomplish these projects. We plan to continue with this project. The project has also had impact in enabling relationships to be established with other organisations in Lebanon and researchers at UCL.

Outputs and Impact

  • Led to award of follow-up funding of £2,500

Image credit: Photo by Julie Ricard on Unsplash