Mu'askar and Shu'fat: Retracing the Histories of Two Palestinian Refugee Camps in Jerusalem
refugee camp
Palestinian refugees

More than seventy years after 1948, no comprehensive history of Palestinian refugee camps exists. The microhistory of Mu‘askar and Shu‘fat, involving refugees, UNRWA, and the Jordanian and Israeli governments, is one piece of this wider history. While most Palestinian refugee camps were established as part of emergency operations after the wars in 1948 and 1967, Shu‘fat camp in Jerusalem was built between the two wars. The project intended to remove refugees residing in Mu‘askar, an unofficial refugee camp in the Old City’s Jewish quarter, to this new camp four kilometers north of the city center. Planning started in 1959 but, due to complications, Shu‘fat camp was only inhabited from 1966. After 1967, Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem deeply affected both Mu‘askar and Shu‘fat. Mu‘askar exemplifies history and presence erased and Shu‘fat illuminates contradictions of planning a longterm refugee camp from scratch. The article traces the evolution of the camp as a site of belonging and ownership and explores history’s contributions to this field.

Author biography: 

Kjersti G. Berg holds a PhD from University of Bergen and is a post-doctoral fellow at Chr. Michelsen Institute (CMI) in Norway. The author thanks Mezna Qato who provided valuable comments on the manuscript She also thanks Alex Winder, the two anonymous readers, and the organizers and participants in the NDPS workshop, for comments that not only improved the article but provided an experience of collective academic effort. This article is an output of the “SuperCamp: Genealogies of Humanitarian Containment in the Middle East” research project managed by the Chr. Michelsen Institute, Bergen, Norway and funded by the Research Council of Norway (grant no. 288398).