The lifespan of displacement camps around the globe is often measured in years or decades. Nevertheless, the establishment of camps to house people fleeing political violence is often framed as an emergency measure of limited duration. These are depicted as “temporary” spaces in which people are provided with aid and support until such time that they are able to return to their “permanent” homes. In this article, we focus on the actions and aspirations of camp residents to imbue their dwellings with a sense of home. Our empirical material was generated through fieldwork in two camps in Jordan housing people displaced from Syria. “Homemaking” in this location calls into question the rigid opposition between “temporary” and “permanent”: an opposition that, for diverse reasons, host states, donors, humanitarians, and camp residents may strive to maintain, at least in rhetorical terms. Attending to the creation of dedicated space for receiving guests, we consider the content of homemaking as shaped by residents’ideals of home in combination with the constraints imposed by institutions responsible for funding, hosting, and managing the camps. While this analysis highlights the fragility and contingency of homemaking, it also reveals the agency of displaced people in acting to improve their surroundings and conduct normative social relations.
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