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Refugee Heritage

In 2019, working as a research assistant for Alessandro Petti at the Royal Institute of Art in Stockholm, I was working on the documentation of projects by DAAR, to be included in their upcoming book “Refugee Heritage.”

Created through their ongoing and long running work in Palestine, working directly with the camp community of Dheisheh Refugee Camp, just outside of Bethlehem in the West Bank, the project reflects on possible forms unacknowledged refugee heritage can be preserved, resisting usual contradictions that recognizing culture in exile and living with dignity in the present diminishes the right of return.

This project speculates on linking routes between Dheisheh camp and the 44 destroyed villages of origin, performatively reenacting the routes of displacements inhabitants of the villages took to reach the site of Dheisheh in 1948. 

Here, heritage is conceptualized as a cultural itinerary, reversing the historical route of displacement to one of future return.

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Also as part of the refugee heritage project is documentation diagrams I created with DAAR for one of their project’s in Dheisheh Camp.

The diagrams depicts the Three Shelters intervention. Locating original UNRWA shelters from the 1950’s, three shelters and a communal toilet, behind closed gate, DAAR worked with the local inhabitants to think about what form the preservation of these shelters might take.

The site was activated with film screenings, concerts and discussions, and a design for a slopping concrete platform, bordering the three historical shelters, the toilet and olive trees was proposed.

During construction however, to everyone’s surprise, the owner of the plot destroyed the shelters, ending the possibilities of the project. This opened up discussions around the complexity of “ownership” and the vulnerability of open spaces in the camp, and furthermore it raised the question of how to create a collective awareness on the importance of preserving the camp and its history.