Sisters-in-Waiting: A Case Study of Displaced Syrian Women Fostering New Senses and Memories of Home in Lebanon




protracted displacement, agency-in-waiting, multi-sensorial, homemaking, female friendship, Syrian women


Building on variously located Syrian women’s accounts of their day-to-day lives in Lebanon, this article illuminates meaning-making processes in protracted displacement, defined by the UNHCR (2004, p. 1) as a “long-lasting and intractable state of limbo.” We draw on the metaphor of a “constellation of homes” (Brun & Fábos, 2015) to explore various homemaking practices and the interconnected temporal and multi-sensorial dimensions thereof. In so doing, we counter narratives of displaced women as a homogenous collective and problematic assumptions of stasis and passivity associated with protracted displacement. Particular attention is paid to women’s narratives regarding “purposeful work” and, crucially, female friendship, which we argue can be understood as additional nodes in the constellation of homes. We argue that further and different forms of research are required to do justice to the multi-sensorial dimensions of homemaking and the novel concept of “sisters-in-waiting” in the lives of women in protracted displacement.


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Author Biographies

Ibtissam Ouaali, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Ibtissam Ouaali was a Researcher at the University of Amsterdam during the research period of this article. She can be reached at

Esther Miedema, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Esther Miedema is a Lecturer in International Development Studies at the University of Amsterdam. She can be reached at


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How to Cite

Ouaali, I., & Miedema, E. (2023). Sisters-in-Waiting: A Case Study of Displaced Syrian Women Fostering New Senses and Memories of Home in Lebanon. Refuge: Canada’s Journal on Refugees, 39(2), 1–16.

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