Accepted paper:

Disposition toward suspicion, honor and local economies of trust: negotiating interpersonal relations in a Christian and a Muslim Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon


Leonardo Schiocchet (Austrian Academy of Sciences)

Paper short abstract:

Research on Palestinian refugees points to a “disposition toward suspicion” associated with refugeeness that highlights politico-moral economies of trust acting as “boundary maintenance disciplinary practices”. Such practices become essential components of the refugees’ social belonging processes.

Paper long abstract:

My ethnographic data about Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, Brazil, and Denmark points to a strong "disposition toward suspicion" associated with refugeeness. This, in turn, highlights politico-moral economies of trust that become "boundary maintenance disciplinary practices" among these refugees. The dynamics of suspicion and trust, propelled by uprooting, shape all groups, from social support systems and marriages to collective political, ethnic and religious allegiances. Furthermore, this dynamics also shape relations between these groups and others. Uprooting tends to be associated with displacement of the subject's social order, bringing about an intensification of intra-group bonds concomitant to a radical experience of suspicion geared toward those outside this group. This process does not always give rise to high intra-group solidarity, but conceptually it does tend to polarize the group versus outsiders. This, in turn, heightens a necessity on the part of the subjects to reflect and shape both collective and individual networks of trust, which tend to be at least expressed in a moral idiom, even when decisions are more political in kind. Disenfranchised urban refugees tend to respond to this process in ways that are markedly differently than those living in refugee camps; refugees in the Middle East, Latin America or Europe also thread different social belonging arrangements. My proposal is to bring data especially from Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon, having other situations as a counterpoint, to discuss with the participants what may be more general to refugeeness and social crisis, and what is specific to the Palestinian case and/or context.

panel P087
Situating statelessness: anthropological perspectives (WCAA/Commission on Theretical Anthropology panel)