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Journal of Palestine Studies
In the Ruins of Nahr al-Barid: Understanding the Meaning of the Camp
Adam Ramadan


The destruction of Nahr al-Barid camp in Lebanon in 2007 was a disaster for the 35,000 people for whom it had become home. To understand what was lost, this article explores what the refugee camp is and what it does, materially and imaginatively, for its residents. Drawing on the words of ordinary Palestinians from Nahr al-Barid and Rashidiyya camps, it describes how the camps are social, cultural, and political refuges from marginalization in exile. While the camps draw meaning from a particular Palestinian time-space that emphasizes displacement and transience, they have also become meaningful places in themselves. Consequently, the loss of Nahr al-Barid and the displacement of its society have been understood as a repetition of the foundational experience of the modern Palestinian nation: the Nakba.

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