The Nakba in a Livestream: Empathic Encounters and the Solidarity of Shared Precariousness

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Abstract

Since the summer of 2015, hundreds of Arab Palestinians from Israel have joined the massive number of volunteers who flocked to Greece and other locations in Europe to assist refugees from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and other countries. Based on their stories about their experiences of volunteering, this essay examines how the affective regime of humanitarian action in crises mutates when such action is practiced by ordinary people who are living through their own protracted political crisis. Focusing on the empathy that Palestinian volunteers have practiced in their encounters with refugees, I show that the Palestinian relief actions and the solidarity of shared precariousness they embody challenge the premises of Western humanitarianism but also complicate the picture sketched by studies on "other humanitarianisms"from beyond the Western and universalist frame. I claim that empathy-one of the main humanitarian resources the Palestinian helpers have mobilized-has prompted a composite sense of affinity in which the similarities between the helpers and the refugees were both stressed and qualified. This affinity, as I further show, draws not just on the helpers' traumatic memories and cultural and ethnic affiliations but also on their fears of the future.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)399-417
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Political Sociology
Volume14
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science

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