“House” is the primary site of capital investment for most Palestinians who live within the borders of Mandate Palestine, primarily because their marginalized political and economic position as a people denied leaves them with few other options. The construction of houses and transformation into homes, often a product of a lifetime of work and sacrifice, constitutes the core of the built environment. Houses and the built environment, in turn, are shaped by the power relations embedded in the organization of labor, property, and urban planning regimes; and in the physical infrastructures and networks of energy, water, telecommunications, and the circulation and production of building materials. At the same time, Palestinian houses are inextricably linked to relentless processes of demolitions, evictions, and land dispossession.
The discursive and materialist dimensions of Palestinian homes and houses raise a host of questions about the politics of daily life. How are houses made into homes and vice versa? What can homes tell us about gender and generational dynamics and the production of “Palestinianness”? How are domestic relations and living arrangements shaped by permit systems that regulate and restrict building, residency, ownership, and marriage? What does home mean in the context of serial displacements, economic insecurity, and the scattering of family? What can we learn from variations in design and building material of Palestinian houses across space and time?
Beshara Doumani (moderator): is a professor of history at Brown University whose research focuses on marginalized groups, places, and time periods in the early modern and modern Middle East. He also writes on academic freedom, politics of knowledge production, and the Palestinian condition.
Lisa Taraki: is associate professor of sociology and director of the Ph.D. Program in the Social Sciences at Birzeit University. Her research interests revolve around spatial politics and the social history of Palestinian cities. She is working on a social history of the city of Ramallah.
Jacob Norris: is senior lecturer in Middle Eastern History and Co-Director of the Middle East and North Africa Centre at Sussex (MENACS). Jacob's research looks at the social and cultural history of Palestine in the 19th and 20th century with a particular focus on the flows of Palestinian migrants in this period, especially to Latin America.