The Meanings of Ordinary in Times of Crisis: The Case of a Palestinian Refugee Camp in the West Bank
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Publication date: 2014-09-30
Polish Sociological Review 2014;187(3):395-410
For people living in violent and insecure contexts, “ordinariness” and “crisis” take on new meanings. Daily efforts to manage these contexts transform everyday life into a scene of resistance, a place of refuge and a domain of resilience and survival. The article discusses four ways in which Palestinian refugees from Al-Am’ari camp in the West Bank frame the ordinary amidst protracted exile, ongoing occupation and recurring military conflict by: (1) suspending everyday life, (2) defending normalcy amidst the crisis, (3) normalizing the experience of crisis and (4) fostering a normative sense of ordinariness. Instead of adopting arbitrarily defined categories of ordinariness and crisis, the aim of the paper is to reconstruct how they are produced, understood and narrated by camp inhabitants. The analysis is based on eight months of ethnographic fieldwork conducted in Al-Am’ari camp between January 2010 and August 2012.
1 The project was financed from the funds of the National Science Centre granted by decision no. DEC-2011/01/N/HS3/01243 and conducted at the Faculty of Philosophy and Sociology, University of Warsaw.
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