National Identity in the Guest Room: The Palestinian “Duyuf”
guest room

This article explores the manifold dimensions of Palestinian contemporary identity through the lens of the ghurfat al-duyuf  (traditional guests’ room) and its design. It argues that against a backdrop of a decades-long military occupation, this domestic space devoted to social functions is the terrain where families spontaneously express the core features of their identity and their participation in Palestinian nationhood through the layout of meaningful objects. It further contends that the narratives that emerged from the ghurfat al-duyuf over a ten-year observation period necessitate the reframing of Palestinian identity as a nuanced complex of diversities. Using a combination of architectural and ethnographic methods, the article seeks to provide an alternative approach to the subject matter, based on empirical observation of small-scale, everyday realities and common practices in the guests’ room.

Author biography: 

Alessandra Gola is currently completing her PhD in Architecture at KU Leuven (Belgium). Her research interest focuses on the relationship between everyday built environments, identity, and social construction. Since 2009, she has worked in Palestine as an urban researcher and designer in tandem with a number of local and international institutions. In 2018, she cofounded the Yalla Project, an applied research center on space and society based in Nablus.

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