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Precarious Places: Social cohesion, resilience and place attachment of refugees in Lebanon

Principal Investigator:

Dr Helen Adams, King's College London


Lebanon has absorbed over a million-people fleeing the conflict in Syria. Weak governance and limited resources threaten the wellbeing of newly arrived populations and exacerbate tensions with host populations. The protracted nature of the Syrian conflict requires consideration of long term solutions to the refugee crisis. This project uses place attachment to understand:

a) wellbeing in precarious mobile populations; and

b) root causes of social tensions between newly-arrived and host populations.

The research does this by testing hypotheses on the role of place attachment in building resilience and the role of place identity in causing social tensions. Thus, the project can inform interventions to build positive resilience and social cohesion in displaced and host populations. Ultimately, the viability and relative merits of repatriation, resettlement or integration will depend on the nature of the place attachments of those affected.

To find out more about the ideas within Dr Adam's project, you can discover literature on place attachment by visiting:

Summary of Developments

Excerpt from ‘A narrow path can fit a thousand bicycles’, a graphic novel based on the project’s research

This project recently produced a report entitled "Same space, different places: How bonds to place affect well-being and social-cohesion in Syrian refugees and their Lebanese host communities" that aims to inform the work of project developers in the area of social inclusion and conflict mediation in NGOs and other organisations working on displaced peoples and their host communities. The report can be viewed here

In addition to this, the project team have also put together a graphic novel in Arabic for those who participated in the research. The comic will be published in English in due course, but the translation can be viewed here in the meantime. 

Excerpt from ‘A narrow path can fit a thousand bicycles’, a graphic novel based on the project’s research

Objects of Personal Significance:

We asked Syrians and Lebanese, and Palestinians residing in both those countries about objects that had a particular significance for them, perhaps things that they had been able to bring with them when they left, or things that have taken on meaning since they arrived, or objects that signified home.

The following images show some of these objects:


A gold bracelet bought by a mum for her children as an insurance policy. They know if anything should happen to her they should sell the bracelet. They are Syrian refugees living in a tented settlement.


A radio brought by a Syrian refugee when he left from Damascus under shelling with his family. It was a gift from his father who remains in Damascus. 


A Palestinian Syrian refugee holding one of his cobbler’s tools, he learned on these tools when he was a young man. When his brother in law went back to Syria, he asked him to bring them from home. He is not able to work in his profession in the tented settlement in which he lives. 


When one family left Syria with nothing but the clothes on their back, one little girl had sneaked this blanket under her jumper and her mum didn’t find out until they had got to Lebanon. 


Biscuit moulds brought with a Syrian refugee now living in a tented settlement in Lebanon. These biscuits would be made on certain holidays and festivals. 


Radios from Palestine during the British Mandate period brought by the respondent’s father during the Nakba on the creation of Israel. The respondent was a Palestinian Lebanese man who was born in Lebanon and lived in Lebanon his whole life.


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