Grass-roots Commemorations: Remembering the Land in the Camps of Lebanon
The Oslo negotiations-and the specter of a Palestinian renunciation of the right of return-greatly increased the insecurities of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon. The new uncertainties in turn triggered the emergence in the refugee camps of commemorative practices different from those previously sponsored by the Palestinian leadership. The new forms of commemoration, centered on the villages left behind in Palestine in 1948 and including popular ethnographies, memory museums, naming practices, and history-telling using new technologies, have become implicit vehicles of opposition and a means of asserting the refugees' membership in the Palestinian polity. Beyond reflecting nostalgia for a lost world, the practices have become the basis of the political identity of the younger generations and the motivation for their political mobilization.
Laleh Khalili is a Ph.D. candidate in political science at Columbia University. She would like to thank John Chalcraft, Diana Allan, Muhammad Ali Khalidi, Ian Lustick, Shira Robinson, and the anonymous reviewers of the Journal of Palestine Studies for their comments on the text.