The public and private in Palestinian camps have no legal, social or political meaning. Nether private nor public property exists in camps. However, the history of displacement and the destroyed villages are what we share in *common. And the camp is our common, neither public nor private. Over the past sixty-four years of displacements, due to the exceptional nature of the political condition, a new emerging culture has emerged.

In our contribution to the Collective Dictionary, we intend to look at the camp community’s strengths and sources of power by investigating, documenting and building on the most effective and significant cases of commons. And as participants of Campus in Camp, together with the community, we aim to articulate both the present and future in order to re-generate a way of life that values what we share, what we have in common and the way we represent ourselves.

Contributors: Aysar Al-Saifi, Isshaq Al-Barbary.

Common II (PDF)

*The Collective Dictionary is a series of publications containing definitions of concepts. The terms proposed are those considered fundamental for the understanding of the contemporary condition of Palestinian refugee camps. These words have emerged as a result of actions and active dialogs with the camp community. Written reflections on personal experiences, interviews, excursions and photographic investigations constitute the starting point for the formulation of more structured thoughts. The Collective Dictionary is both the reference and conceptual framework for all Campus in Camps projects and interventions.


During the mid ’50s in refugee camps, UNRWA began the building of what are known as shelters and shared toilets, as shown up in the picture. Unlike nowadays, there were no signs of boundaries between people’s temporary houses. However, this example present the notion of the common life that people live within refugee camps, where private properties are totally absent and things are still shared among the community.