For many, refugee camps are considered to be sites only for marginalization and humanitarian intervention. Refugees are to an extent perceived by the international community and its organizations as passive subjects and victims, helplessly waiting for help. Consequently one of the pressing challenges camps face today is that many within this community have come to internalize such a discourse, contradicting with a community that has sought self-determination and autonomy.
The aim of this course is to challenge such perception by de-touring and re-experiencing the camp by focusing on the strengthened aspects of these spaces such as collective sites that were established by the community. This in turn provides the opportunity to portray the camp in a different way, absent from the idea of passivity and poverty but rather giving the camp its prerogative for its historic achievements.
Campus in Camps participants will be working together with the camp community in an educational setup and will conduct the course. For this they will create a Mujawara (from Arabic ‘neighboring’), which represents for us the basis in which knowledge can be produced. Throughout the course we will be building a detour-guiding team for the four refugee camps of Aida, Beit Jibrin, Dheisheh and Fawwar to critically understand and present the camp today by naming and conceptualizing practices that represent this active community. Through conducting and implementing tours in the camp the course will focus on actual knowledge produced in the camp manifested in existing concrete sites.
Throughout the course there will be self-organized seminars on a monthly basis inviting speakers to give talks about tourism and guiding. In parallel, we will conduct a collective reading workshop reviewing the products of the first years of Campus in Camps: the collective dictionary, in which we will reflect on the meaning of concepts such as the common, ownership and sustainability and some of Campus in Camps initiatives such as The Bridge, The Suburb, The Concrete Tent and The Un-built, which we will be analyzing and introducing into the detour guide. We will constitute a team of camp tour-guides. The group of participants will have 4 field trips in other refugee camps in the West Bank and weekly English classes.
The Detour is the culmination of activities that aimed in the past years to promote, constitute and diffuse the Mashaa (the common) as an antidote to spatial and social fragmentation experience by refugees. However, it will assist the refugee community to conduct and implement ongoing tours in the camp focusing on actual knowledge that has been produced and manifested in existing sites and stories that have been explored during the previous years’ of work, describing and representing contemporary life in refugee camp. We found it fundamental to conduct Detours visits in order to write on each collective site to be included in the Guide-booklet.
The guide-booklet will feature stories of resilience of the camp community and the creativity of the younger camp generation. It will contain original materials and research and will include maps, photographs, stories and other tools of narration. It will be centered on actual knowledge that has been produced and manifested in existing sites such as: The common restaurant, Edward Said library, the youth program center, the revolving gate, shelters room, the distribution center, the concrete tent, the bridge, the Basketball team of the camp and the Harrat. It will also contain an overview introduction of Dheisheh refugee camp.
Walking Seminar with Elena Isayev
Journeys through stories objects and ancient maps
Campus in Camps, Dheisheh Refugee Camp
Thursday, November 19, 2015 – 9 AM – 14:30 PM
The dialogue will use these questions and the world of ancient Italy as a starting to point to consider the interconnection between journeys, stories and place. It will begin by reflecting on everyday journeys, and how these are intertwined with the banal, the fictional and the historical. How the environment that we move through is made meaningful by private and collective memories. Cicero and his friends in ancient Rome will be used to help the discussion as they move through places of memory debating what makes Athens great, her monuments or the ancient characters who once lived there. The journeys in the world of the ancient Mediterranean can not be traced as a line on a 2-dimensional map. Such maps did not exist, rather what maps we have, as we will see, were constructed around the route ways and the story. These alternative cartographies had no empty spaces or boundaries. Places were not defined by territory but by the power of their story. In the final part of our dialogue we will focus on the way that objects tell their own histories, simply through their materiality. They reveal not only their age and use, but also the raw materials from which they were made, the craftsmen who shaped them, and the human networks and technologies that brought them to where they were found. The purpose of these approaches, through discussion and practice, is to fuel an exchange of ideas about how the alternative tours build and shape places and histories.
Elena Isayev is an Associate Professor of Ancient History at University of Exeter. She is the author of Migration, Mobility and Place in Ancient Italy (Cambridge forthcoming); Inside Ancient Lucania: Dialogues in History and Archaeology (London 2007); and Ancient Italy: Regions without Boundaries (2007, co-edited with G. Bradley & C. Riva). Her research on migration in Italy shows a highly mobile world questioning the role of ethnicity and territoriality in conflicts. Current research focuses on public and common space, and the uses of citizenship. Her interdisciplinary initiative Future Memory (AHRC funded), brought artists, architects, and musicians into communities to explore alternative meanings of place, creating collective monuments in sculpture, painting and performance.
In occasion of the Qalandiya International “This Sea is Mine” (October 5-31, 2016), Campus in Camps brought Qalandiya visitors in “detour” in Dheisheh Refugee.
De-Tour led Qalandia visitors in an exploration of Dheisheh Camp by narrating the story of the camp using collective knowledge contained in popular stories and sites, enabling the representation of contemporary life in the Refugee Camp. The concrete tent, Shelters rooms, Camps’ walls and graffiti, UNRWA distribution center and the pedestrian bridge were the main sites presented to the guests to pass their vision of how can one look and learn from and about the camp.
The De-tour aims to offer people ways to re-experience the camp, focusing on the strengthened aspects of these spaces such as collective sites of cultural resistance that were established by the community. This in turn provides the opportunity to portray the camp in a different way, absent from the idea of passivity and poverty but rather giving the camp its prerogative for its historic achievements.