Accepted paper:

Practising morality at times of crisis: Palestinian boundary-making during the intifada al aqsa

Author:

Nina Gren (Lund University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper explores how Palestinian refugees in the West Bank made sense of their recent experiences of violence and insecurity through moral narratives and practices. Meaning-making implied positioning Palestinians as morally superior to Israelis and other outsiders, when it came to life styles and politics. The camp was conceptualised as a moral community, but under constant threat.

Paper long abstract:

At times of experienced threat due to violent conflict, societies tend to watch their social boundaries and to position one's own group as morally superior to one's opponent or enemy. This paper explores one such case, namely how Palestinians in a refugee camp in the West Bank made sense of their recent experiences of violence and insecurity through moral narratives and practices. Meaning-making at the time of intifada al aqsa implied positioning Palestinians as morally superior to Israelis, but also as superior to other Arabs and Westerners, when it came to life styles and politics. There was thus an on going process to uphold circles of sameness and otherness. The camp was conceptualised as a moral community. This community was however under constant threat; the morality and community of the camp inhabitants had always been better in past times. There were also many concerns with moral contamination due to contact with outsiders, especially Israelis. This contamination could for instance occur through work or imprisonment in Israel, but also through a more general trend of modernisation and consumerism. Most importantly, morality involved gender discourses and the concepts honour and shame as they were understood locally. The argument of the paper is that this moral boundary-making is, except from a response to a deep sense of threat against the Palestinian society, also to be understood as "an investment in the game", to quote Bourdieu, i.e. a way to augment social being and to re-establish hope.

panel W013
Experiencing calamity - expressing the unthinkable