Geographies of Youth Identity, Memory and Belonging in the Palestinian Refugee Camps of Lebanon

  • Dermot O'Connor

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Palestinian refugee youth in Lebanon live in a protracted refugee situation. They remain under- researched by ethnographers and anthropologists. This thesis seeks to address this lacuna. Using qualitative research techniques, of semi-structured interviews and observation, the thesis examines issues surrounding identity, belonging, memory, attachment to place and homeland. These are viewed through the lens of the traditional pillars of Palestinianness. The subjects of this research are known colloquially as Jeel ma baa’d El Harb (The generation after the war). Commencing the thesis, the research aims are enumerated and the scope and nature of the research is outlined. A review of the literature incorporating the theories surrounding identity follows and this relates those to the Palestinian situation. An exploration is undertaken of the importance of memory, tradition and the homeland as facets of identity through the prism of alNakba (events surrounding the 1948 expulsion of Palestinians). Attachment to place and homeland are investigated amongst this generation through their concept of Haq al ‘Awda (right to return) and what form of return is envisaged. Attachment to place is explored further through the issue of Tawteen (naturalisation). An examination of emigration (Hijra) elicits the concepts which this generation hold and how they envisage the availing of this opportunity will affect their identity. This research has found evidence of intergenerational changes in how Palestinian identity is perceived by the Jeel ma baa’d El Harb. Factors existing in the socio-economic and physical landscapes are offered as reasons for these changes. The findings also point to a heterogeneity amongst this generation of their concept of Palestinianness which seems to contradict the portrayal by previous researchers, of Palestinian identity as homogenous. A number of recommendations are suggested which may assist policy makers and NGOs to develop appropriate solutions to the Palestinian refugee situation in Lebanon.
Date of AwardMay 2018
Original languageEnglish
SponsorsDepartment of Education and Learning (DEL)
SupervisorColin Breen (Supervisor) & Sara Mc Dowell (Supervisor)


  • Attachment to place
  • Memory tradition
  • Tawteen
  • Hijra
  • Nakba
  • Haq al'ansda

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