Strategic Boredom: The Case of Refugees

Our paper on the Experience and Dynamics of Boredom in Refugee Camp has been published in the Journal of Contemporary Ethnography! The issue of refugees has been covered by media in recent years exponentially, but the boredom of a refugee camp has not been analyzed yet (although mentioned frequently). The paper examines three modalities of boredom experienced by refugees: (1) doing nothing, (2) life in limbo, and (3) strategic boredom. The refugees waiting for their documents are deprived of the meaningful opportunities to spend their time, and they live in a state of in-betweenness, stuck in limbo, lacking agency and perspectives. Yet, the least obvious is that such a state seems to be actively produced and maintained by the camp’s management [South European Case was analyzed]. Refugees’ boredom turned out to be preferable as bored people are easier to control. Yet, even if refugees were not bored, the pose of boredom is a convenient attitude that eases the obtention of the stay permit (the behaviour of refugees is assessed and take into account by the commission). In this very situation, strategic boredom occurs. From one side, a social control tool and, from the other, adaptation to the camp’s rules. The conducive conditions to experience boredom are produced to create submissive subjects, and boredom is pretended to avoid problems.

Prof. Izabela Wagner, the leading author of the paper Strategic Boredom: The Experience and Dynamics of Boredom in Refugee Camp: A Meditteranean Case, presented her research on camp boredom at the 4th International Interdisciplinary Boredom Conference (25 June 2021).

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