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‘Being Stuck’: Refugees’ Experiences of Enforced Waiting in Greece

Abstract

Waiting has traditionally been considered a passive state and Hage (2009) identified a sense of ‘stuckedness’, as the cornerstones of social life become suspended when liminality turns into protracted waiting (Hage 2009). The connotations of waiting to passivity have been challenged by highlighting degrees of activity within the wait (Bendixen and Eriksen 2018; Brun 2015; Rotter 2016). In this chapter, we explore how refugees in Greece experienced waiting after the European border closure March 2016, which rendered them immobile. We analyse how the refugees experience waiting in Greek refugee camps and waiting in relation to the asylum system as passive, uncertain, meaningless and disempowering. In some cases, however, waiting is active and meaningful, as the refugees actively engage with the present or orient themselves towards a hoped-for future by, for example, volunteering in camps or practising a new language. By shedding light on the affective dimensions of waiting, we point to the potentials for mental health and psychosocial interventions to recognize and draw on what refugees articulate as influencing well-being positively and negatively within the wait.

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  • DOI: 10.1007/978-981-15-4976-2_3
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Acknowledgements

We are incredibly grateful to the refugees who shared their stories and parts of their lives with us. Particular thanks go to our interpreters, who worked in difficult physical and emotional circumstances and to the dedicated MSF team in Greece for their support to the study. We would also like to thank the Editors and the anonymous reviewer for thoughtful and constructive feedback. Staff from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine wishes to thank the LSHTM Director and Faculty Deans who authorized and supported their participation in this research.

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Correspondence to Pia Juul Bjertrup .

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Bjertrup, P.J., Ben Farhat, J., Bouhenia, M., Neuman, M., Mayaud, P., Blanchet, K. (2021). ‘Being Stuck’: Refugees’ Experiences of Enforced Waiting in Greece. In: Vindrola-Padros, C., Vindrola-Padros, B., Lee-Crossett, K. (eds) Immobility and Medicine. Palgrave Macmillan, Singapore. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-15-4976-2_3

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-15-4976-2_3

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  • Publisher Name: Palgrave Macmillan, Singapore

  • Print ISBN: 978-981-15-4975-5

  • Online ISBN: 978-981-15-4976-2

  • eBook Packages: Social SciencesSocial Sciences (R0)