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City of Exiles: Reframing “Migrant Labour” in Beirut, Lebanon
Over the course of the last decade, and through the ongoing economic crisis in Lebanon, increasing numbers of African and Asian migrant workers can be found working both legally and 'illegally' across multiple sectors of employment in Beirut. Together with Syrian refugees as well as diverse Lebanese citizens, these migrants have created a thriving underground layer to the city, one encompassing religious and commercial establishments, mechanisms of informal service provision, and spaces of leisure, desire, and politics. Through a consideration of everyday intimate relations within these spaces, this paper shows that contemporary Beirut cannot be understood by collapsing lived experience into the legal-administrative categories of citizen, migrant worker, and refugee. If the state provides these categories, society offers another; one to be found in that layer of the city where the three populations come together: that of exile.
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