Materializing the nation in everyday life: on symbols and objects in the Palestinian refugee diaspora


This article considers the nationalizing practices of everyday life among Palestinian refugees in Jordan. Concerned with what some scholars call banal or everyday nationhood, it examines how particular objects within the ordinary lives of Palestinian refugees articulate conceptions of national belonging and difference. Attending to the discursive and the material, this article argues that understanding Palestinian national practice among refugees in Jordan requires specific attention to the material objects consumed and displayed within the homes and institutions of Palestinian life. As icons productive of a national sensorium, these objects are critical for understanding the constitution of nationhood and what I call a national visualscape. Embedded within the routine spaces of ordinary life, this paper argues that national practice is often visible yet unseen, articulated yet unheard. Palestinian nationhood in Jordan is thus an ordinary affair; it is the practical accomplishment of ordinary people engaged in the production of nationhood without a nationalist movement.

Publication Title

Dialectical Anthropology