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The Cables and the Power, Mobilising Space, Mobilising for Space in the Palestinian Refugee Camps of Beirut, Lebanon (2014-2017)

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy

Politics in the Palestinian refugee camps of Lebanon have been studied through a number of perspective, mostly focusing on the relation to national liberation and collective memory. The politics of materiality in the camps, and especially the urban issues, have also received some interest from research, especially after the Lebanese Civil War, but little has been said around the forms of mobilisations surrounding these issues. Relying on an interdisciplinary work situated between human geography and social movement theory, this thesis proposes to look at these questions to explore the ways in which the politics of the refugee camps have evolved in the post-Civil War period. The thesis explores the spatial structuration of the camps, defining the camps’ space as a dimension of the social, with effects on it. Drawing on the pragmatic turn in sociology, the thesis proposes a pluralist model to interaction in the camps, describing several spatially-located grammars of interactions the camp-dweller the camp-dwellers can mobilise in public interactions. These grammars of interaction structure activities of framing social problems and situations in the camps, and explain disputes on a category of spatialised social problems, the “problems of the camps”. For local activists, politicising around these problems is a way to approach politics in other ways than the “partisan” framework. With attention to their spatial anchoring, the thesis then described a number of organisations, paying attention to the resources, discourses, and modes of proof they rely on to make their actions in the camps acceptable and impose their social representations. The situations of conflict with the alleged authorities in the camps and the mundane work of these organisations are described. Finally, the effects of these phenomena on space are seen, showing how space is imbued with new meanings as these mobilisations unfold. Space is therefore seen as a factor as much as a result of social interaction.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
Award date2018


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