A space for identity
The case of Lebanon’s naturalised Palestinians
in The politics of identity
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This chapter examines a segment of Palestinians who were granted citizenship in Lebanon through a process of tawtin, a naturalization strategy underpinned by notions of national belonging and identity. It draws upon interviews and observations with naturalized citizens and refugees to illustrate and reveal patterns of citizenship practice that challenge national discourses of tawtin, and suggest the emergence of a paradigm that posits citizenship-as-rights, and not identity. Despite the dichotomous discourse that posits Palestinian identity in dialectic to citizenship, naturalized Palestinians constructed dynamic spaces for both to exist, somewhat harmoniously. Despite the globalization of human rights and the rise of universal personhood, access to rights remains inextricably bound and dependent upon access to citizenship. Analyses of citizenship practice remains, for the most part, conscripted to frameworks that posit citizenship-as identity on the one hand, and the subsequent emergence of citizenship-as-rights on the other. Belying these existing frameworks is a negotiation and re-negotiation of citizenship by individuals that inherently challenges them from within. This necessitates a paradigmatic shift from the top-down lens within which tawtin of Palestinians in Lebanon is presented, towards a bottom-up approach that explores the individuals’ agency in its conceptualization.

The politics of identity

Place, space and discourse

Editors: Christine Agius and Dean Keep

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