THE ARCHAEOLOGY OF UNCERTAINTY: The material culture of Palestinian Refugees in South Lebanon

Henrietta Ali Ahmad

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis


The Palestinian communities of south Lebanon have been living in exile for nearly 75 years. They differ from other communities in the surrounding countries and the wider diaspora because of unsettled and uncertain nature of their lives made worse by the continuing economic and political instability within Lebanon itself. These communities value their objects highly, both artefact and document, because they are all that remains of this absent place; they are all that remains of Palestine. This project examines Palestinian objects and how they act in different ways. Palestinian objects memorialise the losses that these people have faced and are able to enable the feeling of Palestine to be generated. They create Palestine in absentia, a space where an atmosphere of Palestinianism resides. These Palestinian spaces are created either physically in homes and museums or digitally on phones and social media platforms. This environment of Palestinianism created by these objects is how Palestinian identity and nationalism is formed, a key component in Palestinian activism. Objects therefore play a very significant role in this, used as tools to educate Palestinians and non-Palestinians about Palestine, its people, and their culture. Objects tell the Palestinian story of dispossession but also hold the hope of proving what was lost so it can be reclaimed in the future. Ultimately, they ensure that Palestinians remember who they are and where they are from but also guarantee that others do not forget about Palestine and its people.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Kamash, Zena, Supervisor
  • Gloyn, Elizabeth, Supervisor
Award date1 Sept 2023
Publication statusUnpublished - 2023


  • Palestinians
  • archaeology
  • material culture
  • object agency
  • displacement
  • Identity
  • identity construction
  • cultural heritage
  • Lebanon
  • refugees
  • refugee camps
  • activism
  • nakba
  • nakba stories
  • object biography
  • contemporary archaeology

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