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The Palestinian National Movement in Lebanon: A Political History of the ‘Ayn Al-Hilwe Camp

September 11, 2022 at 9:00 am

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  • Book Author(s): Erling Lorentzen Sogge
  • Published Date: June 2021
  • Publisher: I.B. Tauris
  • Hardback: 272 pages
  • ISBN-13: 978-0755602834

Of the 12 official Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon, Ain El-Hilweh (‘Ayn Al-Hilwe) is the largest in both area and population and is known among its 33,000 or so inhabitants as the “Capital of the Diaspora”. This title is fitting considering the unmatched degree of political and territorial autonomy the Palestinians enjoy, arguably more than in any other Arab country.

It is also one of the most contested refugee camps in the country, containing a host of different political factions, many of which have their own armed militia. Navigating through this complex political landscape, Erling Lorentzen Sogge’s The Palestinian National Movement in Lebanon: A Political History of the ‘Ayn Al-Hilwe Camp provides an ethnographic study on the post-Oslo camp politics of Ain Al-Hilweh.

The book seeks to further our understanding of the “paradoxical duality of dispossession and rightlessness, on the one hand, and political agency, on the other”. Sogge through his research and fieldwork, which includes interviews with relevant political and militia members and representatives, expands on the pre-existing notion of the refugee camps, and Ain Al-Hilweh in particular as “Palestinian states in exile”.

This idea bolsters the argument that the revolutionary national movement in exile is still very much alive, in spite of the 1993 Oslo Accords, which gave rise to the mainstream Palestinian Authority (PA) and “was supposed to mark the end of an era for the Palestinian national movement’s existence in exile”.

This book is on the shortlist for the Palestine Book Awards 2022, please click here to read the full review on the Palestine Book Awards site.