Textures of precarity: Repurposing in a Ugandan refugee settlement

Nicholas Wainman*, Susan Reynolds Whyte, Lotte Meinert

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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Palabek Refugee Settlement in Northern Uganda hosts more than 40,000 refugees from South Sudan. They receive plots of land upon which they must build their own houses, as well as a few relief items and minimal food rations. The people who cross the border are not passive recipients of humanitarian aid. They creatively repurpose items often associated with precarity and helplessness in ways that challenge images of refugee victimhood. UNHCR tarpaulins are used in various projects, including video halls and churches. USAID cooking oil tins serve to make house doors that protect, bring privacy and give the owners status. These projects are not only opportunities for agency; they also offset the persistent waiting that often characterizes life in forced displacement.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAnthropology Today
Pages (from-to)19-22
Number of pages4
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2022


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