World Languages & Cultures | Gabiam, Nell
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Nell Gabiam’s ethnographic research has focused on Palestinian refugee camps in Syria, more specifically, on the politics of humanitarian and development assistance in Palestinian refugee camps. A significant part of her work looks at the built environment of Palestinian refugee camps by analyzing the tensions surrounding urbanization and urban planning in these camps. She has also conducted fieldwork among Palestinians in France as part of a collaborative project on statelessness in Europe with faculty at the University of Oxford’s Refugee Studies Center.


Her latest research project examines the effects of the war in Syria on the country’s Palestinian refugee population. A large part of this research focuses on Palestinians displaced by the war in Syria and has led her to conduct fieldwork in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, France, Sweden, and Germany.

  • 2016: The Politics of Suffering: Syria’s Palestinian Refugee Camps. Indiana University Press: series on Public Cultures of the Middle East and North Africa.
  • 2016: “Palestinians and the Arab Uprisings: Political Activism and Narratives of Home, Homeland, and Home-Camp.” With Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies.
  • 2016: “Humanitarianism, Development, and Security in the 21st Century: Lessons from the Syrian Refugee Crisis” Roundtable special issue on “Problematics of Humanitarianism and Human Rights.” International Journal of Middle East Studies.
  • 2015: “Citizenship and Development: Palestinians in France and the Multiple Meanings of Statelessness.” Special Issue: “Population and Development.” Jennifer Johnson-Hanks and Daniel Smith, eds. Studies in Comparative International Development.
  • 2012: “When ‘Humanitarianism’ Becomes ‘Development’: The Politics of International Aid in Syria’s Palestinian Refugee Camps.” American Anthropologist 114(1):95–107.
  • 2014: “Implementing the Neirab Rehabilitation Project: UNRWA’s Approach to Development in Syria’s Palestinian Refugee Camps.” In: From Relief and Works to Human Development: UNRWA after Sixty Years. Sari Hanafi, Lex Takkenberg, and Leila Hilal, eds. New York: Routledge.


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