Poetics and Politics of Spatial Practices in the Palestinian Refugee Camps


In this lecture, Dr. Bshara discussed the spatial practices on the grounds of the camps. Based on fieldwork research he conducted in Al-Jalazon refugee camp, Dr. Bshara concluded that it is not exceptional or out of the ordinary to see refugee camps, because these camps have transformed into cities. The Palestinian refugee camps are the result of long and ongoing spatial processes. The refugees have been constructing houses and businesses to accommodate their needs. With the fourth generation of refugees born in exile, the spaces of the camps have become fully utilized as a living space. For instance, camps have become overcrowded, highly built, and urbanized spaces. Reading into the history of the Palestinian camps and into the stories of the refugees, Dr. Bshara realized that Palestinian refugee camps constitute a humanitarian and political 'troubling’ phenomenon.

He also explained how refugee camps, with taking Al-Jalazon camp as a case study, have evolved into habitat, and temporary shelters have developed into permanent living spaces. Moreover, Dr. Bshara shed light on the “micro-sophisticated-spatial practices” which are historically and politically situated within the real estate industry driven by high demands and political conditions created in post Oslo era. He also emphasized that the materiality and symbolism of refugee camps are intermingled to represent a longing for the missing self (the village and home of origin) while recreating reminders of these through the material practices.

Saturday, December 15, 2012 - 11