Boundaries and political agency of Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon

Date
2016-01-01
Authors
Amiri, Zeinab
Major Professor
Advisor
Marwan Ghandour
Committee Member
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Architecture
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Architecture
Abstract

New technologies of power are taking control of body and life. Historically, refugee camps were produced as a result of the sociopolitical effects of new technologies of power. In some instances, refugee camps have been conceptualized as “total institutions” where bodies are disciplined and where control is an integral and defining component of the structure of the institution and its daily routine. In many ways, the space of Palestinian camps in Lebanon has signified a mechanism of control for multiple political powers. These camps have had fixed boundaries since their establishment. The configuration of the boundary reflects the power of Lebanese state over the camp residents and its means of surveillance and control over the spaces of the camps. The refugees are expected to remain within their boundary where Lebanese army checkpoints can control what goes into the camp. It is an environment under continuous potential siege. Manifestation of living under potential siege is displayed differently among the three camps that I chose to discuss in this thesis; namely Shatila, Nahr Al-Bared and ‘Ain al-Hilweh. These three camps show different conditions of integration with the spaces outside their respective boundaries. The spatial characteristics of these boundaries defined different degrees of spatial assimilation of the camps within the surrounding space the Lebanese state. Navigating through Giorgio Agamben’s “state of exception” and Michel Agier’s “extraterritoriality” as theoretical frameworks of the space of the camp, this thesis maps the political agency of Palestinians in relationship to the process of urbanization of camp border in order to assert the spatial exclusivity of these two frameworks within the conditions of the Palestinian refugee in Lebanon.

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