Year of Publication

2009

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Dissertation

College

Arts and Sciences

Department

Sociology

First Advisor

Dr. Rosalind Harris

Abstract

The lives of Palestinian refugee women are complex and layered, embedded in the constraints and dictates of a patriarchal class system within a conservative culture that has been shaped by resistance to the Israeli military occupation since 1948. Over six decades of Israeli military occupation, ongoing national resistance, poverty and a maledominated society are a few of the forces that continue to shape the lives of refugee women today. The Israeli occupation has obstructed the development of a viable Palestinian economy and legal institutions that could serve as a framework for attaining women’s rights. In addition, Palestinian women, especially refugee women have limited employment and education opportunities due to the military violence which serves to strengthen patriarchal norms that discourage women seeking either higher education or work outside the home. Military occupation and traditional patriarchal society are therefore two inter connected processes central to the formation of gender identities and roles for women living in refugee camps. Palestinian refugee women are also part of a unique experience of being refugees on their own land.

A central question arises as to whether, in the absence of an independent Palestinian state, refugee women can be agents of transformation in their personal, familial and community relations. I t is necessary to explore the potential for resistance and empowerment at the local level as defined and expressed by women and men in Jabaliya camp in an effort to assist in responding to this question. The everyday experiences of women explored in this study from the standpoint of women and men in Jabaliya refugee camp and their interpretations and perceptions of those experiences, are the basis for identifying everyday acts of resistance and potential avenues of empowerment among women in the camp. Everyday resistance and the process of empowerment are evident in the lives of women. The data show both subtle and open acts of defiance to oppressive ideas and social structures as well as a clear development of a critical understanding of women’s roles and status in the camp.

Included in

Sociology Commons

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