Dissertation Title: Forced Displacement Urbanism Territorial biographies and contemporary narratives in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq

Supervisor: Prof. Dipl. -Ing. Heinz Nagler (BTU - Germany) - Prof. Dr. Bruno de Meulder (KU Leuven - Belgium) - Prof. Dr. Nurhan Abujidi (KU Leuven Belgium/ZUYD- The Netherlands)

*The work was successfully defended on the 1st of February 2023


 Layla Zibar is an architect, an urban researcher, and a doctoral researcher for a Dual Doctoral Degree between Brandenburg University of Technology (Germany) and the University of Leuven (Belgium). Layla obtained her M.A. in Architectural Engineering from Cairo University (Egypt -2016)  in Urban Design and Community Development and B.A. in Architectural Engineering from Aleppo University (Syria-2010). She is Kurdish by origin, and she was born and raised in Aleppo, Syria. Layla worked with several INGOs & Design Studios in spatial upgrading and urban interventions participatory projects for disadvantaged groups. Additionally, she is a project consultant for the Yalla Project/Nablus-Palestine and Ecumene Studio/Ireland. Layla has worked as a project consultant with BORDA in Kurdistan Region of Iraq, Project Coordinator in Kayan Community Builders/Egypt, an urban designer in CDC/Egypt, and architect in Module Designers/Egypt.

Research Focus:

The past decade has witnessed one of the largest forced movements (internal and external) produced by armed conflict recorded, in particular, Syria (armed conflict) and Iraq (the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and internal feuds). The anthropologist Michel Agier (2008) read this phenomenon as the image of the 21st century where “a world of displaced and refugees (is) being created before our eyes” (Agier, 2008). This ‘world’ has a spatial reality, and in these receiving sites of forced displacements, urbanization processes still occur in the most ‘exceptional’ situations. 

This research explores refugee camps as seeds for urbanity in their hosting geographies. It is essential to understand the spatial set that reforms and reproduces urbanity's articulation factors and what intertwines with it, namely the social, economic, and political. Hence give an ‘alien space’ a meaning to become undoubtedly a place in the making. This study focuses on the spatial processes (reforming the given) in refugee camps to unfold the complexity of the extent of progression to urbanity. The research seeks to analyze Syrian Kurdish refugee camps in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) and reads/situates the camps in light of the history and the future of the ‘Kurdish Question’ its diasporic relations that are still shaping and reshaping the region's urban scene (Recchia, 2012a). This study places itself within disciplines of forced displacement, urbanism, human cultural geography, Kurdish Studies, and Political Geography.

Other research Interests:

  • Forced Displacements Urbanism
  • (Inter)dependency Networks and Forced Migration.
  • Placemaking by participation in different urban contexts