Silvia Pasquetti is lecturer in sociology at Newcastle University and member in the Institute for Advanced Study (School of Social Science) in Princeton. She has published peer-reviewed articles in Theory & Society, Law & Society Review, Ethnic & Racial Studies, International Sociology, and City. She has also published review essays and public sociology essays in British Journal of Sociology, Contexts, and Merip. She is currently finishing a book manuscript tentatively titled Together, Apart: Suspected Lives in Israeli Cities and West Bank Refugee Camps under advance contract with Oxford University Press.
Negotiating Stigma among Ruins: Histories of Displacement and Control from Lydda to the Jalazon Camp
This article connects and compares everyday experiences of militarism, ruination, and stigma among Palestinians in Lydda, an Israeli city, and Jalazon, a West Bank refugee camp. These two Palestinian communities are connected through displacement: in 1948, Palestinian refugees of Jalazon were expelled from Lydda and from about 36 villages around the town. At the same time, they are divided through legal-spatial control: since 1948, Palestinians in Lydda, many of them “internally” displaced, and Palestinians in Jalazon have been differently situated in their relationships with the Israeli security state and the international humanitarian government. The paper discusses the two-way traffic in emotions, perceptions, and representations between these two Palestinian communities, tracing it to this intertwined yet diverging history of displacement and control. Specifically, it focuses on how the built-environment in each locality and the circulation of material objects between them mediate symbolic and social relationships. First, it discusses how the built environment in Lydda both severely limits and opens some possibilities for the contestation of urban Palestinians’ predicament of surveilled and stigmatized marginality and for their reconnection with other Palestinians, such as those displaced in 1948. It also discusses the complex meanings that the term “refugee camp” has acquired in Lydda. Second, it examines how, while the camp’s built environment shares some physical traits with the built environment of the segregated Palestinian districts in Lydda (e.g. faulty sewer lines), it is imbued with different, less stigmatizing meanings. It also discusses how refugee Palestinians both strive to reconnect with present-day Lydda and perceive it as a site of moral-political weakness. Third, it examines how relationships with material objects (e.g. a calendar from a destroyed village in 1948; a published list of displaced families from Lydda) mediate experiences of difference and togetherness within and across these two Palestinian communities.
This paper is part of a broader effort to develop a transnational and comparative perspective on Palestinians across borders with particular attention to their distinct relationships with powerful and typically hostile agencies of control and their everyday negotiation of stigmatization, surveillance, and coercion.