Drawing on ethnographic material from Shatila camp in Beirut and the informal gathering of Jal el Bahr in Tyre, in southern Lebanon, this article explores the possibilities suggested by various forms of collaborative practice within these marginalized communities. As the Palestinian national movement weakens, and the refugee community becomes more fractured— spatially, socially, and politically—new forms of sociality and provisional association, mostly forged in the informal economy, are emerging in and around camps. How refugees tackle immediate material concerns, express grievances, and demand civic entitlements (even in the absence of citizenship), reveals forms of reciprocity and activism that do not fit prevailing models for Palestinian political subjectivity in this context. Energies and impulses redirected into small-scale, seemingly nonideological “minor politics” challenge delineated notions of how urban space, society, and resources are organized and used and what constitutes politics. Unstructured, sporadically collective, and often involving Palestinians, Lebanese, Syrians, and non-Arabs working together to contest the discriminatory policies of the Lebanese state, these alliances transcend identity and ethnicity to encompass what seems closer to resurgent class struggle. As conventional political forms falter, these alternative social configurations and tactics hold promise and possibility.
Research Article|January 01 2018
Diana Allan; “This Is Not a Politics”: Solidarity and Subterfuge in Palestinian Refugee Communities in Lebanon. South Atlantic Quarterly 1 January 2018; 117 (1): 91–110. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00382876-4282055
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