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Aya Musmar

Feminist Transpositions in the Refugee Camp

Lent 2020-2021

Tuesday, 16 February 2021


In this lecture, I seek to decolonise the conventional role of the researcher/architect by thinking of my encounter with the refugee camp from my position as an Arab Muslim Woman. I deliberate the story of my access to the refugee camp through one of the international NGOs operating there. I speak out the many times I had been dislocated from my position as an researcher/architect, and the other roles I had to claim along the months of my fieldwork. While critiquing the racialized, classed and gendered hierarchies according to which the humanitarian NGO work is operated, I incorporate other modes of seeing
allowed by this dislocation from my conventional role as a researcher to speculate on the possibility for other ethical modes of “response”.Eventually, this lecture argues for “feminist transpositions” as a methodology for a “critical praxis” of research. “Feminist transpositions in the Refugee Camp” not only accounts for the difficult ethical questions implied in a multiplicity ofpositions, but also permits the researcher to think of practices of decolonising research beyond the coloniser-colonised binary.


Aya Musmar is an assistant professor in Architecture and Feminism at the College of Architecture and Design, University of Petra, Amman. Her transdisciplinary research investigates humanitarian response in refugees’ spaces and beyond, it thinks of the refugee camp as a spatial phenomenon that embodies world unjust politics. She applies a decolonialist feminist critique and is interested in exploring the ways by which architectural research and architectural pedagogies could bear testimony to social injustice. Aya’s PhD thesis, Witnessing the Refugee Camp: Feminist Positions, Practices and Pedagogies, has been shortlisted for RIBA President’s Awards in 2020. Aya is an active Co-I on multiple international researches, of which are “PPE for Refugees” and “Investigating heritage-led resilience to conflict, scarcity and climate change with Syrian refugees in Jordan”.

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