Can Refugees Save the World? Post-Development Approaches to livelihood from Palestinian Refugee Camps in Lebanon

PhD project supervised by Paola Minoia (2019-2022)

Yafa El Masri

Despite the diaspora, refugee communities carry the responsibility of protecting and reviving their heritage beliefs of hope and good throughout years of exile. Based on their heritage, Palestinian Refugee Camps in Lebanon are resisting the global capitalistic system by replacing humanitarian development aid and market activities with post-development concepts based on cooperation values. This research explores how such local values constitute post-development and decolonial alternatives to international development schemes. In these camps, several volunteer initiatives have emerged as an attempt to redistribute any resources and skills among refugees for the collective benefits of camps dwellers. Therefore, this research sheds light on refugee economies who focus on non-market activities oriented towards Convivalism (the philosophy of living together) to generate overall social well-being. Thus, this research works towards documenting the experience of the Palestinian refugees and sharing its lessons with the reform-seeking world. The final questions would not only discuss how are the innovative post-development approaches involved in creating livelihood in Palestinian refugee camps, but also: How are these approaches produced in Palestinian refugee camps? Can they be transported to other communities to form new models for livelihood? “Another world is possible”, claimed the Motto of the First World Social Forum held in Brazil in 2001, and possibly another world is even necessary. Along these lines, can refugee camps change the world?