Life on Hold: Technology, Displacement and War in the 21st Century
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This thesis is concerned with two prominent phenomena in our contemporary world; the mass displacement of people across the globe and the increasing interconnectedness of people brought on by the internet and represented by the ubiquitous smartphone. Drawing from the vocabulary of liminality, this thesis offers a comprehensive account of what life in displacement is like for Syrian refugees residing in Izmir, Turkey. After the advent of the EU-Turkey deal, Syrians are prevented from travelling to Europe and are still unable to return to Syria owing to the ongoing complex political emergency. In Izmir and across Turkey, Syrians contend with an increasingly wary host community as well as a lack of legal protection and support services. Nonetheless, as will be illustrated through the course of this thesis, Syrians have adopted multiple strategies for navigating this liminal situation through their smartphones. The smartphone allows Syrians to organise life in Izmir, reflect on past homes as well as dream of a future home beyond the liminality. By applying Appadurai’s production of locality framework as well as Brun and Fabos’ constellations of home framework, we can see how context affects locality on the one hand as well as how refugees engage in the agential practice of making home on the other. In addition, the concept of the warscape will be deployed and developed to highlight how the crisis in Syria is experienced through the smartphone. I hope through this thesis to bring out the often overlooked human tales which showcase the injustice of the EU-Turkey deal specifically as well as what it means to live in a situation of protracted displacement in the 21st century.