Hybrid Political Order and the Politics of Uncertainty: Refugee Governance in Lebanon

(Routledge, 2020)

~ Chapter 1 now available through open access

~ Reviews in International Migration, Migration and Society, and International Migration Review

Lebanon has the highest per capita number of refugees worldwide and is central to European policies of outsourcing migration 'management.' Hybrid Political Order and the Politics of Uncertainty is the first book to critically and comprehensively explore the parallels between the country's engagement with the recent Syrian arrivals and the more protracted Palestinian presence.

Drawing on extensive fieldwork, qualitative case-studies, and critical policy analysis, this book questions the dominant idea that the haphazardness, inconsistency, and fragmentation of refugee governance is only the result of state fragility and the related capacity problems. It demonstrates that the endemic ambiguity that determines refugee governance also results from a lack of political will to create coherent and comprehensive rules of engagement to address refugee crises.

Building on emerging literatures in the fields of critical refugee studies, hybrid governance, and ignorance studies, it proposes a conceptual framework to capture the spatial, temporal, and procedural dimensions of the uncertainty that refugees face and to tease out the strategic components of the reproduction and extension of such informality, liminality, and exceptionalism. In developing the notion of a ‘politics of uncertainty,’ ambiguity is explored as a component of a governmentality that enables the control, exploitation, and expulsion of refugees.

The book featured in an episode of the podcast Fragile Truths; was discussed in FM Focus; and was formally launched at a GLOCAL event and at the Centre for Migration Law (Radboud University Nijmegen) as well as at the Centre on Global Migration (University of Gothenburg) and King's College London.


The book explores the other side of knowledge, its institutional production and its effects on subjectivity. It is a key text for those interested in what ignorance studies can offer to refugee studies.'

~ Claudia Aradau, Professor of International Politics at King's College London

With eloquence and analytic intensity, Stel concetualizes how marginalized spaces both make and are made by deliberate forms of ignorance, offering tremendous insights and inspiration to scholars working across multiple fields.

~ Tom Slater, Reader in Urban Geography at the University of Edinburgh

The book offers a much-needed perspective in today's world of systematic denial of rights behind the veil of uncertainty as a general mode of governance of populations.

~ Katarzyna Grabska, Senior Researcher at the Peace Research Institute Oslo

Stel's book is a remarkable addition to the field of critical refugee studies.

~ Nasser Yassin, Director of the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs at the American University of Beirut

Theoretically sophisticated and informed by deep knowledge of Lebanon's intricate politics, the book has profound implications for understanding the Lebanese state.

~ Reinoud Leenders, Reader in International Relations and Middle East Studies at King's College London

The book presents a highly original perspective on refugee governance in Lebanon and beyond.

~ Are Knudsen, Senior Researcher at the Christian Michelsen Institute.