Dr Melissa Gatter

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Melissa Gatter is a social anthropologist with an interest in forced migration, humanitarianism, time, and refugee camp governance in the Middle East. Her research on the Covid-19 PPE for Refugees project explores the impact of the pandemic on livelihoods in Zaatari camp for Syrian refugees in Jordan. Melissa completed her PhD in Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Cambridge in 2020. Her PhD research examined the politics of time in Jordan’s Azraq refugee camp based on 14 months of ethnographic research.

At Sheffield, Melissa is preparing a book manuscript based on her PhD and MPhil research in Azraq and Zaatari camps, titled A Nine-to-Five Emergency: A politics of time and power in Azraq refugee camp (American University in Cairo Press, expected 2022). The book interrogates the relationship between time and power in Azraq, asking how a politics of time shapes, limits, or enables everyday life for both the displaced and local aid workers. It uncovers the under-examined but significant temporal dimension of refugee governance, engaging with literature on emergency, bureaucracy, containment, waiting, and optimism. The book aims to shed light on an under-researched camp that presents pressing questions as to the future of humanitarianism and refugee camp management, complicating perceptions of Azraq as the ‘ideal’ refugee camp. It seeks to grant Azraq a long overdue urgency within an apathetic international climate.

In addition to her academic pursuits, Melissa has worked as a humanitarian in communications and in the field for leading aid agencies in Jordan, including Save the Children. She has also consulted on development programmes across the Middle East for Q Perspective Consulting in Jordan. Melissa is passionate about bridging academia and development through responsible research.


Research interests: forced migration; refugee camps; politics of time and space; humanitarian governance and local aid workers; identity; bureaucracy; resistance, resilience, and vulnerability; waiting; cynicism.