Fragmented Imaginary: seeking resilience for the Rohingya
Bachelor Final Thesis | June 2020
The label ‘refugee’ invokes a patchwork of hopeless and sombre images: the washed ashore body of a 2-year old Syrian boy, a packed boat drifting in the Mediterranean Sea, cities reduced to ruins in Yemen, and run-down camps in the Horn of Africa. The objective of this thesis is to create shelters at the 24 South Pargana district, West Bengal for one such refugee community— the Rohingya— dispersed within India. When refugees become homeless, they are also deprived of a sense of belonging and detached from their familiar culture and ways of living. Therefore, when this project encounters the mission of making shelters, it also meets the challenges of recreating intricate imageries of identity and memory encapsulated within ‘home.’ Therefore, this project proposes shared institutions, accessible to both the Rohingya settlers and the members of the receiving community, alongside which resilient houses will grow incrementally. With the assistance of such spaces, including a community centre, refugees are accommodated into the local people’s every day through visibility and interaction, which in turn promotes their sense of legitimacy and informal inclusion. There will also be a vocational centre to enable the Rohingya to make positive contributions to the economy. School and health care facilities are introduced to sustain the host village and improve its human development indicators. This project is expected to unfold in two distinct phases where materiality, space and permanence are observed to evolve over time. The dominant focus here is to see how we can better integrate refugees and build their capacities so that they can become useful to our society instead of merely remaining as a marginalized group used as a tool for xenophobic rhetoric.