Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


International Relations

First Advisor's Name

Susanne Zwingel

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Harry Gould

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Third Advisor's Name

Eric Lob

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Fourth Advisor's Name

Dennis Wiedman

Fourth Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member


Gender, Security, Forced Migration, Refugee Studies, Women, Lebanon, Syria, UNHCR, Middle East, Humanitarian law

Date of Defense



While there has been a shift in security studies from the security of states to that of people, realpolitik still takes place under the banner of an emerging discourse of ‘refugee crisis.’ Refugee insecurities are (en)gendered and experienced where their depth and breadth pose significant challenges to asylum seekers, neighboring host-states, and humanitarian agencies. To this end, this research captures the unique dynamics of a South-South refugee crisis in Lebanon, in which Syrians residents make up nearly one-third of its population. It applies a transnational feminist framework to trace how refugee security norms get defined, are managed, and how they impact local context. In effect, a gender lens enables an in-depth investigation of the day-to-day challenges Syrian refugee women experience and manage within an unreceptive environment that disproportionately affect their resilience efforts.

Located at the intersection of Security Studies and Refugee scholarship, this dissertation provides a much-needed feminist approach that can bridge the tension between two paradigms previously perceived as exclusionary when exploring a transnational phenomenon such as forced migration. In a refugee-security context, an interdisciplinary study sheds light on how impromptu choices made by involved bodies—such as the Lebanese government and the UNHCR—can significantly impact local realities, creating a vicious cycle of refugee insecurities. This research, thus, addresses the political, socio-cultural, and organizational dynamics that disproportionately affect the majority of registered Syrian refugees in Lebanon: Syrian women. It utilizes several tools, including expert interviews, in-depth longitudinal cultural-theme analysis, and an action-oriented participatory method called Photovoice. These tools help this research explore the multi-layeredness of Syrian refugee (in)security in Lebanon with structural and gendered implications. Hence, this study adds to the critical knowledge from Security Studies, Refugee Protection Regimes, and Women’s and Gender Studies, serving as a useful tool for future projects on the contested politics of refugee (in)security and gender practices.





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