Accepted Paper:

Home, (im)mobility, and belonging among Palestinians  
Leonardo Schiocchet (Austrian Academy of Sciences)

Paper short abstract:

After more than 65 years of protracted refuge, Palestinian refugees have to make elsewhere "home". This situation has prompted Palestinians worldwide to conceptualize home abroad. What lessons can anthropologists engaging (im)mobility learn from the Palestinian case?

Paper long abstract:

After more than 65 years of protracted refuge, Palestinian refugees have to make elsewhere "home". Even non-refugee Palestinians are prohibited to return to their villages of origin. This situation has prompted Palestinians worldwide to conceptualize home abroad. This paper discusses how Palestinians engage home in exile. In the refugee camps in Lebanon, Syria and Jordan, for example, taking up local citizenship (tawtin) has historically prompted resistance from the political leadership, as this has been seen as the main barrier to the "Right of Return" (Al-Haqq al-'Awda), which in turn is often seen as key to the Palestinian Cause (al-Qadyyia al-Falastinyyia) and the Palestinian Struggle (al-Nadal al-Falastyn). In this sense, Palestinians Muslim and Christians alike have often referred to their existence as entailing resistance, mobilizing the idiom of al-sumud (steadfastness), a concept with Islamic undertones resignified by the PLO leadership especially in the 1970s as secular to prompt political action. In Latin America, to where most Palestinians migrated before the creation of Israel (Al-Nakba), many still describe Palestine as home (baladna, meaning "our country"), alongside their countries of residence. Even though this migration would fit neatly most definitions of a diaspora (shatat), and indeed this is the concept most widely used by scholars to refer to this social situation, Palestinians tend to refer to their own experience abroad as one of exile (ghurba). What lessons can anthropologists engaging (im)mobility learn from the Palestinian case?

Panel MB-SSR02
Ideas of movement, faith, and home in Muslim communities in the diaspora