Refugee Heritage

Common Assembly: Refugee Heritage Nomination

May 14, 6pm-7.30pm CET

On the seventy-third commemoration of the ongoing Nakba, May 14, 2021, the Common Assembly of the Stateless Nations and their allies, will discuss the nomination to recognize Dheisheh refugee camp and the forty-four villages as World Heritage Sites.

The nomination book-dossier of Dheisheh refugee camp and the forty-four village of origin is available HERE.

Do refugee camps have a history? Is the camp just a site of misery or does it produce values that need to be acknowledged and protected? What is going to happen to the camp if Dheisheh is recognized as a World Heritage site? And how should the concept of heritage change in order to acknowledge the camp’s condition?

These were some of the questions at the base to nominate Dheisheh Refugee Camp as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Discussions around the implications of the nomination started in 2014; these involved camp organizations and individuals, politicians, conservation experts, activists, governmental and non-governmental representatives, and residents of surrounding areas. The participants in these debates were ambivalent: on the one hand, it was feared that the nomination would change the status quo and undermine legally recognized rights of return; on the other hand, it was understood that acknowledging refugee history as part of humanity’s heritage would place the right of return back at the center of political discussions.

Who has the right to nominate in the case of the Palestinian refugee camps, which are extraterritorial spaces that have been carved out from state sovereignties? The states in which the camps are located? The State of Palestine? The Palestinian Liberation Organization? Popular Committees within the refugee camps themselves? The Stateless Nation, with a population of more than sixty million?

In seeking to understand today’s refugeeness on terms that exceed those of so-called “humanitarian crises,” this book-dossier aims to reframe refugee history beyond the narrative of victimhood, suffering, and humiliation. The book-dossier aims to contribute to the Palestinian struggle for the Right of Return, and also aspires to destabilize dominant western conceptions of “heritage,” introducing a richer and more complex understanding and potentially opening up for the potential abandonment of the concept altogether.

This nomination book-dossier focuses on Dheisheh, but the authors hope that the approach and spirit could be extended to other refugee camps and expanded to include other forms of minority and subjugated heritage.

The nomination dossier was prepared by DAAR Sandi Hilal and Alessandro Petti with a photographic documentation by Luca Capuano. It was made in consultation with Dheisheh Camp Popular Committee, Al-Feniq Cultural Center, Ibdaa Cultural Center, Riwaq Center for Architectural Conservation and the Centre for Cultural Heritage Preservation in Bethlehem and Campus in Camps.

The publication of the Refugee Heritage has been made possible with the generous support of the Royal Institute of Art, Stockholm; IASPIS, the Swedish Arts Grants Committee’s International Programme for Visual and Applied Artists; Van Abbemuseum; Art Jameel in Dubai.

Common Assembly Program

STATELESS HERITAGE, DAAR – Sandi Hilal and Alessandro Petti 17th International Architecture Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia
22 May to 21 November 2021

During the assembly, after DAAR’s presentation of the nomination book-dossier, the participants to the Common Assembly will be asked to express their reasons for or against endorsing the nomination of Dheisheh Refugee Camp and the forty-four village of origin as World Heritage Sites.

Opening and chairing the Common Assembly (5 min)
Shourideh C. Molavi

Presentation of the nomination book-dossier (15 min)
DAAR – Sandi Hilal and Alessandro Petti

Endorsements by participants (60 minutes)
Confirmed participants include: Yara Al Afandi, Nora Akawi, Qussay Abu Abuaker, Khalil Al-Laham, Bisan Al-Jafari, Ayat Al Torshan, Osama Al-Jafari, Mohamed Al-Saifi, Yazid Anani, Nick Axel, Ariella Azoulay, Daoud Barakat, Zoe Butt, Beshara Doumani, Anan Abushanab, Nasser Abourahme, Ayed Arafah, Omar Al-Qattan, Nada Ghandour-Demiri, Ismae’l Sheikh Hassan, Wafa Hourani, Charles Esche, Nikolaus Hirsch, Sari Hanafi, Nadim Khoury, Anooradha Iyer Siddiqi, Muhammed Jabali, Ilana Feldman, Omar Hmidat, Elena Isayev, Salwa Mikdadi, Jawad Malhi, Sara Pellegrini, Nora Razian, Pelin Tan, Paulo Tavares, Naila Sabra, Rasha Salti, Diego Segatto, Dima Srouji, Jad Tabet, Cecilia Widenheim, Eyal Weizman, Inass Yassin, Tirdad Zolghadr.

Refugee Heritage book-dossier
www.decolonizing.ps