March 31, 2011

Draft Title :

Them – Refugees


Stateless refugees who face threats to their personal security , in their guerrilla movement, take space and landscape in urban and condensed areas very seriously. They are hyper aware of the construction of space for they know that their safety and well being depend on their accurate reading and careful negotiation of different spaces. Being within a large group of people with the same ethnic and perhaps language identity have given them enough time to adopt strategies that could minimize risks while they are trying to live barely on a daily basis, work and avoid poverty. They quickly learn how to read symbolic meaning into space. These spaces could be of living (hiding), work, protest, appeal and eventually even detention when caught and arrested, where they are once again forced to negotiate spaces where they are held against their will, punished and trialed under the country’s law before possibility being deported. In the essay I will discuss the form of their creative refuge as another form of ‘creative resistance’ and in the context of architecture, how the violence could be inflicted both ways; against themselves as well as the state country they are in.

The discussion will be drawn based on the two main living-space conditions amongst these refugees; the ‘urban sites’ and the ‘jungle sites’ and how over the years, these sites have been harvesting in an incredibly large number of a new illegal migrants population. Centering on the refugee living-space examples like the abandoned ‘Tower of David’ in Venezuela and the jungle areas near the urban city areas respectively, the essay is also aimed to draw out comparisons between the two both architecturally and politically. The essay will take account mainly on Agamben’s ‘state of exception’ and ‘homo sacer’ theories discussing the relationships between these refugees and current political power of the host country as well as the country’s urban development decline that may as well have resulted the two ‘sites’ conditions.
















Tower of David, Caracas, Venezuela









Bertam Valley Jungle, Malaysia


Other Possible Theorists:

Hannah Arendt

Michael Sorkin

Preliminary Bibliography:

Homo Sacer – Georgio Agamben

We Refugees – Hannah Arendt

Space and Refugees in Urban Areas – Alice M. Nah ,Sociology Department, National University of Singapore

A 45-Story Walkup Beckons the Desperate – Simon Romero and Maria Eugenia Diaz, New York Times <;

Crossing Frontiers: Race, Migration and Border Control in Southeast Asia – Amarjit Kaur, School of Economics University of New England, Armidale, International Journal on Multicultural Societies (IJMS)

UNHCR Malaysia


_Nurulain Mohd Noor


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