Accepted paper:

Prolonged temporariness: refugee camp as a permanent place of dwelling


Tiina Järvi (University of Tampere)

Paper short abstract:

In my paper I will explore the meanings Palestinians refugees in different locations of exile associate with the refugee camps they currently dwell in. I aim to highlight how camps as spaces bring together different temporalities, and how they materialise the ambivalent realities of refugeeness.

Paper long abstract:

Refugee camps are usually considered to be liminal spaces, a stop on a way from flight to resettlement. But in some cases they become places where lives are lived from cradle to grave. For Palestinian refugees in the Middle East, the refugee camps have been part of their everyday lives from the days of al-Nakba, the displacement of Palestinians in 1948. The camps have developed from tent gatherings to more permanent places of dwelling that have expanded over the year to house the growing refugee populations. They have been places of vulnerability and violence, but also steadfastness and resistance. They are defined by overcrowdedness and lack of privacy, but also by strong communities and feeling of belonging. Camps are not only places where refugees dwell in their everyday lives, but are also integrally associated with their political struggle and the right of return. Camps materialise multiple temporalities as they function as reminders of Palestinians' refugeeness and historic connection to Palestine, when at the same time they form the everyday spaces where lives unfold and futures are aspired. In my presentation, by leaning on fieldwork done in Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon, West Bank and Jordan, I hope to scrutinize the meanings given to the camps by the refugees who dwell in them, and draw attention to their ambivalent nature as places that are both celebrated and perceived with despair.

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Temporalities of dwelling elsewhere: placing and displacing home (SIEF Place Wisdom Group)