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Issue . 79
P. 63
To Subvert, To Deconstruct: Agency in Qalandiya Refugee Camp

Qalandiya camp, one of the closest camps to Jerusalem have endured sever transformation over the past 70 years. These transformations were the subject of enquiry for many scholars and authors who highlighted the different attempts of the formal political structures (Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority) to subject the camp to a state of exception to advance their agendas and interests.

Yet, the transformation can’t be only attributed to an external influence, the inhabitant of the camp played a major role in the actual transformation. Nowadays, the urban environment Qalandiya camp connote several layers of meaning resulting from the negotiation between the inhabitant and the power structures in and around the camp. Refugees in Qalandiya camp are no longer humanitarian subject but are active agent in constant negotiation for their daily needs and political rights.

For that, and since the camp became an active political space, two forms of agencies emerged corresponding to the needs of the refugees in Qalandiya, the first is of collective nature and it subverts or affirms to the imposed spatial order. The second is of an individual nature and it deconstruct any form of spatial imposition and rather allows a momentary meaning to take place. Both agencies work together to create a space within the camp that refugees can conceive themselves within. A space that might be contradictory yet capable of incubating the needs, the aspirations, and the rights of the refugees who dwell within the camp. This article will examine both agencies and try to understand how the way they are utilized in the camp.


Keywords: architecture; space; refugee camps; Qalandiya; Agency; deconstruction; exception; subvert; Jerusalem.