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NIAS Seminar

Nation-States, Citizenship, and Human Rights

When 6 April 2017 from 11:30 to 12:30 hrs
Where Conference Room, Jorishof, Korte Spinhuissteeg 3
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Nadia Latif, cultural and social anthropologist, will discuss her research in a seminar on 6 April. 

About the Seminar

Not-Home Narrated by Palestinian Refugees in Bourj al-Barajneh Camp

Bourj al-Barajneh refugee camp has been inhabited by Palestinian refugees for sixty-six years. Five generations have been born there. Four have grown to adulthood. Yet, all generations continue to assert their right to return, irrespective of intermarriage with the Lebanese or with the children of former camp inhabitants now settled in other countries. Whether in a formal interview or a casual conversation, few ever referred to the camp or Lebanon as home. This book examines narratives of the first three generations in order to explore this paradox.

Material for the book was collected through participant observation and unstructured interviews in Bourj al-Barajneh refugee camp during 2003-2004, 2005-2006, 2011, and 2014. Archival research was also conducted at the Institute for Palestine Studies, Beirut (2003-2004); the International Committee of the Red Cross Archives, Geneva (2007); the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, Geneva (2007).

Drawing on James Clifford and George Marcus’ edited volume Writing Culture, this book approaches ethnography as the anthropologist’s narration of narratives produced through the interaction of the anthropologist and her interlocutors as shaped by their shifting, mutual positioning of themselves and each other. These narratives are addressed not only to the anthropologist, but to all audiences that her interlocutors believe her to have access to. They are shaped by local, regional, and global events at the time of narration. Lastly, narratives may be constituted as much by silence as they are by words.

For its theoretical orientation, this book draws on Hannah Arendt’s work on the nation-state, refugees, and human rights; Samuel Moyn’s conceptual history of human rights; Talal Asad’s conceptual histories of religion and secularism; Fredric Jameson’s work on postmodernism and utopian impulse; and Raymond Williams’ work on narratives of urban-rural divides. The book is in conversation with contemporary interdisciplinary scholarship on human rights and forced migration, and ethnographies of narration.

About NIAS Seminars

NIAS Seminars are aimed to stimulate scientific cross-pollination within the NIAS academic community, but seminars are open to others who are interested. Please  if you wish to attend.

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