Theses Doctoral

Beneath the Concrete: Camp, Colony, Palestine

Abourahme, Nasser

This dissertation is a material-archival history of the Palestinian refugee camp. Its primary claim is that to read Palestine-Israel one must read the camp; the refugee camp, I argue, is the settlercolony’s irreducible foil. How, then, has the question of the camps (neither synonymous with nor reducible to the ‘refugee problem’) exerted its own gravitational force on Palestinian, Israeli, and humanitarian politics? What kind of historical relation is there, I ask, between camp-form and that spatial form from which it seems inseparable—the colony? Working with a range of textual and visual documents (from bureaucratic reports to prose fiction and architectural drawings) drawn from four different archives, I argue that the Palestinian camps lie at the center of the foundational-temporal impasse of the Israeli state—its inability to decisively render the moment of its inception as past. In other words, my argument is that the camp sits not only at the intersection of the most critical biopolitical sites of the settler- colonial—the colonized body and its movements, land and its possession in regimes of property and ownership—but, and perhaps even more consequentially, at the point of their temporal resolution in definite and final forms. Camp and colony are entangled from the start; co-produced in the double movement of dispossession and substitution, un-homing and homing; twinned but inversed topologies of the freedom of movement.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies
Thesis Advisors
Massad, Joseph A.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
January 10, 2019