Bureij Camp, Gaza ca. 1980 UNRWA Central Registry


Organised by Mezna Qato (University of Cambridge) and Kjersti Berg (Chr. Michelsen Institute).

This call for papers is prompted by a sense of dread: what histories can be written when a camp is bulldozed or emptied, and communities and families torn apart, records of socialites built through and by generations all but erased?

With encampment as site and conceptual frame, this call for papers seeks to ingather emerging work on late nineteenth and twentieth-century social histories of Palestinian migrations. In so doing, it hopes to find ways to write histories of those disappeared. We define ’migration’, and ‘encampment’ broadly. These include any forms of collective impermanent housing, work camps, and UNRWA-designated and undesignated Palestinian camps, within and outside Palestine. We seek papers on forced migration and expulsion, temporary dislocation, chain, labour and seasonal migrations.

In doing so, the workshop hopes to push forward analyses that read these histories along under-utilised social historical axises, and furthers the incorporation of Palestinian history into social and micro-histories of encampment and migration, particularly in the global south. 

The workshop is interested in three main questions: 1) How can camp histories, including studies of particular sectors, for example health, education, agriculture, labour, transform our understanding of Palestinian social histories?, 2) How can we bring in new historical agents, such as children, the disabled, and sector labourers, and new frames, including animal and environmental studies, to more fully historicize experiences of migration, exile, displacement and expulsion for Palestinians? 3) What methodological, archival, and conceptual tools are necessary for the retrieval of histories of migrations of disappeared communities and their encampments?

This will be a closed workshop of pre-circulated papers and invited discussants. It will bring together scholars on Palestine and the Palestinians with historians of migration, camps, and refugees from around the world. Some funding will be available for workshop presenters and participants.

The workshop will be conducted over four weekly online panels in December 2021. 

Abstracts of 500 words are due by 15 June 2021.

Please send abstracts, and any inquiries, to kjersti.berg@cmi.no

Papers for pre-circulation will be due on 15 November 2021. 

We aim to develop an edited volume or a journal special issue that we hope will further catalyse social histories of Palestinians in exile, and more broadly, social and micro-histories of refugee/migrant lives. 

This workshop is funded by the Norwegian Center for Humanitarian Studies, and is sponsored by Chr. Michelsen Institute (CMI) and the Margaret Anstee Centre for Global Studies at University of Cambridge.

Kjersti G. Berg

Associated researcher