The Cognitive Landscape of a Refugee Camp. Conversation part II

Conversation part II. For previous rounds, go to: The Cognitive Landscape of a Refugee Camp: Part I, Part III, and, Part IV

Jacob Akech in response to Bethany Ojalehto

Bethany's work makes an important contribution to our understanding of violation of refugee rights. More needs to be written on psychological dimension of human rights violation, especially in refugee camps. However in my view, the article treats refugees (Ethiopian refugees) as a homogenous category, presumably a category that is evenly affected by encampment. I think a look at the refugees as a heterogonous category, and a category that related to time and space differently, would reveal interesting differences in terms of how refugees relate to time and space. Time in relation to the glorious or inglorious past and time in relation to uncertain future, but a future that hold promise of a glorious return or total escape. Certainly, differences matter. A refugee, who engages in small-scale trade, owns a shop or a pub does relate to the camp, space and time differently. A refugee who was a professional or peasant would relate to an arid area like Kakuma differently. A refugee who goes to school or attends the Jesuit ran 'UNISA campus' does relate to the space and time differently. School and exam time-table does mediate their sense of time and space. Similarly, a refugee who loves football will relate to time and space differently from one who does not. A refugee who depends on remittance or waiting for a third country re-location does relate to the camp differently (see or google ECO sondu's award winning short-story 'Waiting' Caine 2009). In other words, oneís sense of time and space in a refugee camp is mediated or refracted through several calendars. It would be great if the author can capture some of these nuances.


Photo credit: mknobil