Connective Threads in Jordan

Jordan Introduction Azraq Refugee Camp Azraq Refugee Camp, Jordan CONNECTIVE THREADS IN JORDAN Connective threads outlines a cultural approach to humanitarian interventions. The project deploys participatory design and up-cycled textiles for the creation of modular tapestries. Inspired by cultural traditions of the MENA region, the tapestries can insulate refugee shelters, preserve cultural memory, and inspire hope. They can also be utilized for mobile storage, or to set up tents for social gatherings. The project introduces a culturally sensitive, socially inclusive, and environmentally conscious framework to humanitarian design. On a global scale, the project critiques the social and environmental cost of our consumer lifestyle. Through the up-cycling of discarded clothes, the project probes how the overproduction of the global textile industry could provide a resource to support the social revitalization of communities affected by war. Impact Connective threads offer a new culturally relevant and environmentally sustainable model for creative interventions in conflict and crisis. The project questions the basic needs approach in humanitarian aid favoring an understanding of culture as an essential human need. Education In Crisis Zones The project delivery takes the form of university courses and creative workshops. Creative workshops at the refugee camp are part of the NRC tailoring program that is accredited by the Jordanian ministry of Interior. This approach to education is aimed at reinforcing the link of cultural heritage with the social realm, broadening the narrative around historical events, and encouraging the social cohesion between migrants and host communities. Co-creation The Future Heritage Lab team developed this project in collaboration with MIT students, refugee learners, the host community and humanitarian workers in the USA, Europe and the MENA region. This intergenerational, interdisciplinary, and hands-on method of creation allows for transcultural exchanges across disciplines, generations, and borders. Research Connective threads explores different aspects of textile performance in the context of displacement : from their cultural meanings and physical insulation properties to their social, economic, and environmental footprint. Jordan currently hosts approximately 2.9 million Palestinian, Syrian, Iraqi, Yemeni, and Somali refugees. 1 It is the second- largest refugee host country in the world after Turkey. About 85% of the 654,700 Syrian refugees are urban-based, with the remaining population living in camps. 2 The Za’atari refugee camp is the largest in the country, accommodating almost 80 000 Syrian refugees. 3 these hostile living conditions, with temperatures reaching 118 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer. Among the 15 other refugee camps in Jordan, Azraq is the most representative example of institutional humanitarian infrastructure. It constitutes what the humanitarian field considers an advancement in governance, security, and design. Local guidelines include forbidding permanent structures, plantation and limiting customization of interior spaces. 1. UNHCR, Global Trends: Forced Displacement in 2019, 3, 2. Ibid., 20. 3. Jordan: Za’atari Camp Fact-sheet (January 2020), UNHCR Operational Data Portal (ODP), https:// 4. Jordan: Azraq Camp Factsheet (July 2020), UNHCR Operational Data Portal (ODP), https:// Ninety kilometers from the Syria-Jordan border, almost 40,000 Syrian refugees found their shelter in the Azraq Refugee Camp. 4 It is a centrally planned, closed camp founded in 2014 as a response to the overflow of the Zaatari camp. Deep in the Eastern Desert, the camp appears from a distance as an endless grid of white containers, bordered by an infinite fence, and surrounded by nothing but sand. The barren landscape extends to the horizon as evidence of