Humanitarian Predicaments: Protracted Displacement and Palestinian Refugee Politics

A lecture by Ilana Feldman (George Washington University)

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Palestinian refugees have lived in displacement, and with humanitarian assistance, for seventy years. Drawing on archival and ethnographic research, this talk considers refugee lives and politics across the length and much of the breadth of Palestinian exile. The talk focus on the geography of near displacement—Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip, the five fields of United Nations Relief and Works Agency [UNRWA] operations in the Middle East. It explores the intersecting, but not identical, experiences of both providers and recipients. And its tracks both the politics of humanitarianism—how it shapes subjects, alters societies, and enforces or disrupts geopolitical inequities—and politics in humanitarianism—how people living inside this system seek to change their circumstances, make claims of various kinds, and lead their lives in ways in which they and their community see value.

Ilana Feldman is a Professor of Anthropology, History, and International Affairs at George Washington University. She is the author of Governing Gaza: Bureaucracy, Authority, and the Work of Rule, 1917-67 (2008), Police Encounters: Security and Surveillance in Gaza under Egyptian Rule (2015), Life Lived in Relief: Humanitarian Predicaments and Palestinian Refugee Politics (2018); and co-editor (with Miriam Ticktin) of In the Name of Humanity: The Government of Threat and Care (2010).

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Duration: 54:03

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Published: Thursday, April 11, 2019