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Abstract

This dissertation explores how laws and rules work in a refugee camp, and what looking at these can tell us on the managing of that space and its inhabitants. It is based upon two distinct periods of ethnographic field research carried out in Burkina Faso with Malian refugees. Starting from the assumption of refugee camps being exceptional places and from a lack of literature on the topic, I will show how what I encountered was a negotiable and fluid space, both in its legal and normative plurality and in the management and administration of everyday life in the site. I will eventually argue that the flexibility and negotiability characterising the refugee camp, as well as the inflexibility of some rules, both justified as being a contextual approach to assisting refugees, are built on prejudices and presumptions accompanying the label ‘refugee’ and Kel-Tamasheq peoples.

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