Date of Graduation

Fall 12-2015

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in International Studies (MAIS)


College of Arts and Sciences


International Studies

First Advisor

Lindsay Gifford

Second Advisor

Yaniv Stopnitzky


This thesis contextualizes the Syrian refugee issue in Turkey with an analysis of history and political discourse, and data drawn from a fieldwork conducted in Şanlıurfa, Turkey in 2015. The Islamist ruling party has staged a warm welcome for Syrian refugees. Their refugee regime, however, has remained weak in regards to law and policy. Retaining the geographical limitation stipulated in the 1951 United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, Turks have attempted to locate the larger issue of hosting refugees into cultural notions of ‘guesthood’ rather than a developed refugee rights framework. The fieldwork discovers the lack of a refugee designation renders the life of an urban refugee extremely difficult, while vague policies further risk the physical and psychological well-being of Syrian refugees. With failed policies highlighted in the fieldwork results, Turkey appears to have perpetuated the practices of failed host communities around the world, what this thesis refers as ‘the international refugee host complexes’. The study problematizes the notion of a refugee camp in this matter, while also using it as a tool to argue that the Islamist party has neither enacted on its idolized Ottoman mold of internalizing the refugee, nor has it lived up to modern democratic ideals, failing to regularize the life of an urban refugee.