Article on Palestinian refugee identities in Lebanon

Making home in exile: Everyday practices and belongings in Palestinian refugee camps

Author: Erin Cory (Malmö University)



Palestinians share a history of exile oriented towards the loss and reclamation of a homeland, often expressed through a shared visual lexicon and mythos. In the context of refugee camps, however, local visual culture and everyday practices demonstrate how Palestinian lives are also grounded in local stories and experiences. How do Palestinian refugees deploy everyday practices to create their home spaces? What can these practices reveal about refugees’ myriad belongings? And, in thinking about these practices, what can be said about how a feeling of home can be articulated in exile, which is at its heart the forced removal/dislocation from home?

This article uses a comparative ethnographic analysis of two Palestinian camps in Lebanon to challenge overarching narratives of ‘Palestinianness’ by calling attention to the rich multiplicity of Palestinian refugee identities. In focusing the analysis on everyday practices ‐ specifically street art and walking ‐ by which residents make and experience home in the camps, the article grapples with the seeming contradictions between ‘home’ and ‘exile’ that colour the experiences of not only Palestinians, but also refugees and asylum seekers in other circumstances of protracted uncertainty, as they attempt to migrate and make home in new countries.