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Equitable Education: Opportunity and Entrepreneurship within the Spatio-Temporal Liminality of the Refugee Camp



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Refugees are spending increasingly protracted amounts of time in refugee camps, ‘waiting’ for a distant future outside of the camp to arrive. The notion of the camp as a temporary space of transition is contradicted by a reality in which this state of being ‘in limbo’ becomes indefinite, and at times even permanent. This essay presents a critical literature review to investigate what ‘equitable education’ means within this spatio-temporally liminal context of refugee settlement camps. While Amartya Sen’s capability approach and John Rawls’ theory of justice underpin many conceptualizations of equity, these do not hold in the inhumane condition of ‘bare life’, where refugees’ freedoms and rights are limited, and futures are continually delayed. Alternative reconceptualizations of the camp as a ‘third space’ of opportunity – with its refugee inhabitants as entrepreneurs rather than helpless victims – are supporting currently popular policies of (neo-liberal) self-reliance. By examining different interpretations of the triangle of concepts of ‘equity’, ‘refugee camp’ and ‘refugee’ within a framework of spatio-temporal liminality, this essay attempts to show that none of the various approaches discussed are unproblematic. Non-formal, self-led entrepreneurship education, however, may provide a chance to soften the ambiguous tensions of living in time-spaces of liminality, and facilitate a shift from education focussed on indefinitely delayed futures outside the camp towards supporting refugees’ creation of possible futures within the camp, ‘here and now’.



Equity, entrepreneurship, refugee camp, social justice, liminality

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Cambridge Educational Research e-Journal (CERJ)

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CERJ, Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge

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