Politics and Refugee Status
This chapter explores the definition, history, and experience of the refugee category. It considers the apparently paradoxical fact that a category that is not meant to provide political status—that is intended rather to hold politics in abeyance—is a starting point for politics in the humanitarian condition. It looks at the specific challenges of the Palestinian refugee category—delineated by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) to determine eligibility for assistance, not to account for all who suffered losses in 1948. The chapter traces operational changes in the category over decades. It also considers how Palestinians, of multiple generations, have lived with and sometimes against the category. It describes tensions about the political meaning of refugee status.
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