Power relations in the Za’atari refugee camp

Jens Adam Hedegaard Hansen, Charlotte Koch Erhardtsen, Gudrun Henrysdottir Thomsen, Mia Holbek & Sofia Lin Hunglinger Mogensen

Studenteropgave: Semesterprojekt


This project investigates the power relations existing between the refugees and the UNHCR workers in the Za’atari refugee camp. This is examined through the documentary Za’atari: ‘A day in the life’. In order for the project to clarify the power relations and how they are manifested in the camp, the project analyses and discusses the definition of space evolving into a city, since Za’atari is a new refugee camp, still in a process of development. Furthermore the project explores the means of communication across cultures and the praxis of decoding and encoding messages, which are also present in Za’atari. In relation to the aforementioned, the study also becomes familiar with the different means used when producing documentaries. The study is based on relevant theories of de Certeau, Foucault and Hall. The analysis reveals a different agenda of the film than first anticipated and the existence of two different power relations within Za’atari, one present in the ‘reality’ of the camp and another present in the production and somewhat manipulation of the documentary. The project concludes the fact that the camp as a new, still developing place, is affecting the power relations between refugees and the UNHCR workers because of the clear difference of the perspectives of the place and what it should provide. Furthermore it is concluded how the power relations present in the camp are constantly negotiated through the struggles between the refugees and the UNHCR, e.g. through their demonstrations and the constraining of means. Finally it is concluded that the documentary, Za’atari: ‘A day in the life’, is used in favour of positive publicity and media exposure for the UNHCR and not a realistic and honest insight into the everyday life in the camp, which seemed to be the promise for the documentary.

UddannelserBasis - International Humanistisk Bacheloruddannelse, (Bachelor uddannelse) Basis
Udgivelsesdato19 jun. 2014
VejledereFrancesco Lapenta


  • Individual and power
  • Syrian war
  • Yahoo
  • refugees
  • Power relations
  • UN
  • Zaatari
  • Jordan
  • Foucault