DIFFICULT DISTINCTIONS: Refugee Law, Humanitarian Practice, and Political Identification in Gaza
Article first published online: 7 JAN 2008
Volume 22, Issue 1, pages 129–169, February 2007
How to Cite
FELDMAN, I. (2007), DIFFICULT DISTINCTIONS: Refugee Law, Humanitarian Practice, and Political Identification in Gaza. Cultural Anthropology, 22: 129–169. doi: 10.1525/can.2007.22.1.129
- Issue published online: 7 JAN 2008
- Article first published online: 7 JAN 2008
In this article, I explore the intersection of humanitarian practice and refugee law in shaping categories of “refugee” and “citizen” in Gaza in the first years after 1948. I examine how humanitarian practice produced enduring distinctions within the Gazan population and provided a space in which ideas about Palestinian citizenship began to take shape. A key argument is that humanitarianism, despite commitments to political neutrality, often has profound and enduring political effects. In this case, humanitarian distinctions contributed to making the “refugee” a central figure in the Palestinian political landscape. I also consider how humanitarianism in Palestine was guided by the larger, emerging postwar refugee regime, even as Palestinians were formally excluded from some of its mechanisms.