Palestinian refugee women and the Jenin refugee camp: Reflections on urbicide and the dilemmas of home in exile


In March 2002, the Israeli military launched its most lethal attack on the West Bank since 1967. In the Jenin refugee camp, the assault included the deliberate destruction of homes and infrastructure including the entire Hawashin neighbourhood. This article considers the memories of Palestinian women who survived the urbicidal war on Jenin and confronted the difficulties of reconstruction. It shows how women enacted particular forms of agency during the siege that do not fit into discussions of urbicide or national resistance. Our analysis also examines the reconstruction of the Jenin camp to understand how its transformation reveals its significance for Palestinian women at both the levels of the home and the urban camp. We argue that the meaning of the camp is inseparable from the different ways it is inhabited. Thus for Palestinian women, the spatial reconfiguration of homes during the reconstruction of the camp permanently erased the experience of sociality once lived by women before the attack. This not only reproduced the effects of the urbicide but also disturbed the ways women inhabited the camp and provoked fears that it could be transformed into a permanent space and thus preclude the possibility of the right of return in the future.

Publication Title

Urban Studies