Palestinian Refugees: Identity, Space and Place in the Levant

Palestinian Refugees: Identity, Space and Place in the Levant

Palestinian Refugees: Identity, Space and Place in the Levant

Palestinian Refugees: Identity, Space and Place in the Levant

Synopsis

More than four million Palestinian refugees live in protracted exile across the Middle East. Taking a regional approach to Palestinian refugee exile and alienation across the Levant, this book proposes a new understanding of the spatial and political dimensions of refugee camps across the Middle East.

Combining critical scholarship with ethnographic insight, the essays uncover host states' marginalisation of stateless refugees and shed light on new terminology on refugees, migration and diaspora studies. The impact on the refugee community is detailed in novel studies of refugee identity, memory and practice and new legal approaches to compensation and "right of return". The book opens a critical debate on key concepts and proposes a new understanding of the spatial and political dimensions of refugee camps, better understood as laboratories of Palestinian society and "state-in-making".

This strong collection of original essays is an essential resource for scholars and students in refugee studies, forced migration, disaster studies, legal anthropology, urban studies, international law and Middle East history.

Excerpt

Are Knudsen and Sari Hanafi

In 2010, it was 64 years since the refugees’ fateful exodus from Palestine (al-Nakba, ‘disaster’) and the birth of the refugee problem. The refugee problem has since remained unsolved despite United Nations (UN) General Assembly resolutions demanding their return. Despite six decades of continued struggle for their rights, the bitter fact is that refugees have neither been able to return to their homeland nor obtain basic civil rights in some host states. Today, there are about four million Palestinian refugees in the Middle East. A large number of the refugees, especially camp dwellers, suffer from poverty, lack of civil rights and live in the midst of intense social and political conflict. In the longest-standing refugee problem in modern history, refugees are caught between exile and alienation as non-citizens of host states. By advancing a regional approach to contemporary refugee communities, this book highlights the diversity of Palestinian lives across the Levant and examines its causes.

The book’s main aim is to turn the attention – although not completely – from the past (the birth of the Palestinian refugee problem) and the future (possible solutions to the Palestinian refugee problem, directions for a peace process) to the present. It is about the Palestinian living conditions, modes of governance of refugee camps, camp reconstruction and improvement, humanitarian management and refugee crisis. If history enters the analytic frame that this book offers, it does so only by way of the genealogies of the spaces and institutions; if the future is projected here it is only through the foreseeable effect of the present situation. A relentless stream of books project the present devastation into an indeterminate future of what appears to be an apocalyptic situation – refugees as destabilising forces, humanitarian crises, camps as laboratories of a full range of political Islamism. At the same time many of them read a speculative future (return as the only option) into the present, as if it has been agreed upon and hence become a historical necessity, something that would happen inevitably. Pierre Bourdieu has made a poignant commentary on such kind of illusions:

One discovers how the powerlessness that, by destroying potentialities, pre
vents investment in social stakes engenders illusions. The link between the
present and the future seems to be broken, as is shown by the projects they

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.