Squatting in camps: Building and insurgency in spaces of refuge

  • Sanyal R
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Refugee camps are cast as spaces of exception where the body of the refugee is reduced to bare life. Camps exist at the intersections of multiple layers of governance and legality and remain in a liminal state for generations. The focus on them as spaces of humanitarian intervention often renders them voiceless. Yet, refugees have agency-as is evident through a study of their built environments. The development of refugee camps shows the ways in which identity, politics and construction are intertwined. The process of squatting, largely seen as a technique of the urban poor to address their housing needs, can also be recast in the camps. Here, squatting not only produces shelter but is also an act of rebellion. This article will interrogate the Palestinian refugee camps of Beirut to show how squatting in camps is an attempt at constructing a nationalist identity through an act of insurgent nationalism.

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  • Romola Sanyal

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