Can UNESCO World Heritage Recognition Help Refugee Camps? – 联合国教科文组织世界遗产识别能帮助难民营吗?

Today's world heritage practices have come a long way since their heady days of Orientalist fetishization and imperialistic supremacy, becoming more sensitive to both material and immaterial cultures as well as differences in societal structures. Still, there remains much contestation with regards to what constitutes world heritage and the benefits that can come from such designations. As the procedures for selection evolve and struggle to place local practices into universal frameworks, proponents of conservation will also have to come to terms with how heritage can have negative impacts on communities. UNESCO sites such as Erbil, Hampi and Wutaishan, for example, have all experienced mass displacement as a result of government-led campaigns to convert ancient settlements into tourist destinations.

In this context, a call for UNESCO to acknowledge a unique form of ‘refugee heritage’ comes as both a surprise and a welcome moment for renewed discussions on the pervasive, if shifting, politics of world-heritage conservation. In 2017, Decolonizing Architecture – an architectural studio and residency in Beit Sahour fronted by Sandi Hilal and Alessandro Petti – produced a dossier titled ‘Refugee Heritage’. Compiled through a series of workshops, lectures and a course hosted at the Royal Institute of Art in Stockholm, it nominated the Palestinian refugee camp of Dheisheh in Bethlehem, for UNESCO recognition.

For more than seven decades, temporary refugee camps have been the de facto homes of nearly one third of displaced Palestinians – a duration long enough for these ageing structures to be considered for protection. In spite of this, the dossier has no official legitimacy: nominations must always be channelled through UNESCO member states and the camp exists as an extra-territorial space outside state sovereignties. Yet, it is precisely by probing these types of relationships  –between rights and space relative to the complexities of the Palestinian condition – that the nomination seeks to open important conversations,

UNESCO officially recognized Palestine in 2011. This allowed certain sites threatened by Israel’s unilateral appropriation, such as Rachel’s Tomb (Bilal bin Rabah Mosque) and the Cave of the Patriarchs (Ibrahimi Mosque), to appeal for recognition as integral parts of the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The nomination of Dheisheh is fundamentally different, in that it does not commemorate a conventional heritage site of the centuries-old monotheistic religions. The camp is an artefact of the 20th century: a site of territorial exception representing political failures and the mass Palestinian displacements of the Nakba, or ‘catastrophe’, of 1948, when the state of Israel was created. It stands as a testament to British imperialism, Israeli colonialism and the UN structures that resulted in the construction of Palestinian refugee camps as a spaces of exile and exception.

But the history of Dheisheh goes further. As an architecture of exile, the camp’s forms reflect decades of lived experience and shifting place meaning. The idea of ‘refugee heritage’, as proposed for Dheisheh, thus captures refugees’ more mundane histories, beyond dominant narratives of suffering and displacement. It offers them a means through which to find value not only in their predisplacement lives and their perpetually forestalled returns, but also in the ‘now’ – in the ever-accreting period between their official histories and dreamed-of futures. Some refugees living in camps fear that, irrespective of their legal right of return, embracing this in-between life will further entrench their displacement. Others would rather forget this history But, for the nomination team, the notion of a heritage of exile aims to provoke an alternative mindset for the displaced, offering a way through which they might begin to value present alongside their pasts and futures.

With the history of Dheisheh being one of ongoing flux, the challenge facing this speculative proposal has less to do with claiming that there are special forms of culture within the camp, than with deciding exactly what is means to acknowledge such cultures, given both their emotional and political weight and the camp’s extra-legal condition. It’s important to consider also that the act of recognizing cultures of exile presents a unique paradox that UNESCO’s current preservationist bent is incapable of accommodating: practices of adaptation must be preserved under conditions of permanent impermanence.

In order to capture the value of such places, the definition of world heritage will need to advance beyond historically focused pluralist views that solely acknowledge ‘uniqueness’ and ‘difference’ across rooted traditions. It will need to consider the hybrid forms of contemporary culture that are produced by millions of people, which, at best, can be categorized as ‘neither this nor that’ or ‘many things at once’: the cultures of those simultaneously in exile and at home. To focus, as UNESCO does, on a conventional understanding of cultural relativism where cultures are distinct bounded entities ingrained in pre-modern traditions, overlooks the rising global presence of such hybrids. It also risks re-inforcing nationalism, since the notion of cultural antiquity continues to figure greatly in the rhetoric of national superiority and territorial belonging. Global examples of this are innumerable, as it has long been common practice for states to selective ‘extract’ nationalist narrative from their sites of antiquity. But instances can also be witnessed locally across the geography of the Occupied Palestinian Territories. In Jerusalem, in particular, Israel has undertaken extensive efforts to selectively frame its national history through architecture and archaeology.

As the particularities of the idea of a contemporary culture-in-exile struggle to meet the ill-fitting protocols of UNESCO ascension, we are faced with a new opportunity to further challenge the intrinsic assumptions of the organization’s heritage practices. Such alternative understandings of culture are precisely what the nomination team wishes to discuss in part four of its dossier, which argues for the need to destabilize both the concepts of ‘exile’ and ‘conservation’. Re-defined, exile becomes a pervasive social condition in which all humankind is currently living, while traditional modes of conservation – those which freeze time, space and culture – are replaced with more dynamic practices and evolving fields of knowledge.

Were the nomination of Dheisheh actually pushed forward, greater reflection would be required on the practical ramifications of ascension and the opportunities and challenges of high-lighting the camp above other forms of Palestinian cultural production. In the Occupied Territories, Palestinian refugee camps sit next to and blend with the settlements of refugees living beyond their boundaries; they are also adjacent to those of individuals who have not been displaced but nevertheless remain stateless. The ways in which various cultures of exile and statelessness are co-produced and intertwined in all these spaces will undoubtedly warrant addition discussion.

In the meantime, the concepts of ‘refugee heritage’ and ‘cultures of exile’ should continue to be expanded and problematized in order to focus our attention on the geopolitical conditions that lead to displacement and direct us toward a better and broader understanding of world heritage in the 21st century. The acknowledgement, alone, of shifting forms of cultural practice and remembrance pushes back against the norms of what is currently considered ‘valuable’ heritage and opens the door for recognizing cultures beyond those classical defined as such.

Published in frieze, issue 199, November-December 2018, with the title ‘Impermanent Inheritance’.

Main image: Dheisheh Refugee Camp, Bethleham, c. 1950-70. Courtesy: Getty Images

Suzanne Harris-Brandts

Suzanne Harris-Brandts is a Canadian architect and PhD candidate in urban studies at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, USA.

Issue 199

First published in Issue 199

November - December 2018

Opinion /

Refugee Crisis
Decolonizing Culture
Suzanne Harris-Brandts

从东方主义拜物教和帝国主义至上的时代开始,今天的世界遗产实践已经走过了漫长的道路,对物质和非物质文化以及社会结构的差异更加敏感。尽管如此,关于世界遗产的构成和来自这些命名的好处,仍然存在很多争议。随着选择程序的发展和努力将地方实践纳入到普遍的框架中,保护的拥护者也将不得不考虑遗产如何对社区产生负面影响。例如,联合国教科文组织的网站,如埃尔比勒、亨比和吴泰山,由于政府领导的运动将古定居点转变为旅游目的地,都经历了大规模的转移。在此背景下,联合国教科文组织呼吁承认一种独特的“难民遗产”形式,这既是一个令人惊讶的时刻,也是一个令人欢迎的关于世界遗产保护的普遍的、如果发生变化的政治问题的重新讨论的时刻。2017年,非殖民化建筑——由桑迪·希拉尔和亚历桑德罗·佩蒂领导的位于拜特萨赫尔的建筑工作室和住所——制作了一份名为“难民遗产”的档案。通过斯德哥尔摩皇家艺术学院举办的一系列讲习班、讲座和课程汇编,它提名了伯利恒Dheisheh巴勒斯坦难民营,以获得教科文组织的认可。70多年来,临时难民营实际上一直是将近三分之一流离失所的巴勒斯坦人的家园,其持续时间足以使这些老龄化结构得到保护。尽管如此,这份档案并没有正式的合法性:提名必须始终通过联合国教科文组织成员国,难民营作为国家主权之外的一个域外空间存在。然而,联合国教科文组织在2011年正式承认巴勒斯坦,正是通过探讨这些类型的关系——权利与空间之间相对于巴勒斯坦状况的复杂性——才寻求开启重要对话。这使得一些受到以色列单方面侵占威胁的地点,如拉切尔陵墓(比拉尔本拉巴清真寺)和祖先洞(易卜拉希米清真寺),呼吁承认为巴勒斯坦被占领土的组成部分。Dheisheh的提名完全不同,因为它不纪念几个世纪以前的一神教的传统遗址。这个营地是20世纪的人工制品:一个领土例外的地点,代表政治失败和1948年以色列建国时巴勒斯坦人大规模迁移纳克巴或“灾难”。它证明了英国帝国主义、以色列殖民主义以及导致巴勒斯坦难民营成为流亡和例外空间的联合国结构。但DHISHEH的历史更进一步。作为流放的建筑,营地的形式反映了几十年的生活经验和移位的地方意义。因此,Dheisheh提出的“难民遗产”概念捕捉了难民更世俗的历史,超越了痛苦和流离失所的主导叙述。它为他们提供了一种手段,通过这种手段,不仅在他们的先入为主的生活和永远处于领先地位的回报中找到价值,而且在他们的官方历史与梦想的未来之间不断积累的“现在”中找到价值。一些住在难民营的难民担心,不管他们的合法回返权利如何,接受这种中间生活将进一步巩固他们的流离失所。其他人宁愿忘记这段历史,但对于提名小组来说,流亡遗产的概念旨在激发流离失所者的另一种心态,提供一种途径,使他们可以开始珍惜与过去和未来并存的东西。由于Dheisheh的历史是不断变化的,这个推测性的建议所面临的挑战与其说是声称在营地内有特殊的文化形式,不如说是考虑到他们的情感和政治,确切地决定承认这些文化意味着什么。体重和营地额外的法律条件。同样重要的是要考虑到,承认流亡文化的行为呈现出一个独特的悖论,即教科文组织目前的保护主义倾向无法适应:适应做法必须在永久不变的条件下加以保存。为了抓住这些地方的价值,世界遗产的定义需要超越仅仅承认根深蒂固的传统的“独特性”和“差异”的历史聚焦的多元主义观点。它将需要考虑由数百万人产生的当代文化的混合形式,这充其量可以归类为“既不是这个,也不是那个”或“同时有许多东西”:那些同时流亡和在家的人的文化。正如联合国教科文组织所做的那样,把重点放在对文化相对主义的传统理解上,因为文化是根植于前现代传统中的截然不同的有界实体,忽略了这种混合体在全球日益增长的存在。这也有再次加强民族主义的风险,因为文化古老概念在民族优越感和领土归属的修辞中仍然占据着重要地位。全球性的例子不胜枚举,因为长期以来,各国从古代遗址中选择“提取”民族主义叙事是普遍的做法。但也可以在被占领的巴勒斯坦领土的地理区域内看到事例。特别是在耶路撒冷,以色列已作出广泛努力,通过建筑和考古学有选择地构筑其民族历史。由于当代流亡文化为满足不合适的教科文组织提升协议而斗争的思想的特殊性,我们面临着进一步挑战该组织传统实践的内在假设的新机会。这种对文化的另类理解正是提名小组希望在其档案的第四部分中讨论的,该文件主张有必要颠覆“流放”和“保护”这两个概念。重新定义,流亡成为普遍的社会条件,全人类目前生活在其中,而传统的保护模式——那些冻结时间、空间和文化的模式——被更有活力的实践和不断发展的知识领域所取代。如果Dheisheh的提名真的被推进,那么就需要更多地思考提升的实际影响以及将营地高亮于其他形式的巴勒斯坦文化生产之上的机会和挑战。在被占领土,巴勒斯坦难民营紧挨着生活在其边界之外的难民定居点并与之融为一体;它们也与那些没有流离失所但依然无国籍的个人的定居点相邻。各种流亡文化和无国籍文化在所有这些空间中共同产生并交织的方式无疑值得进一步讨论。同时,“难民遗产”和“流亡文化”的概念应继续扩大和问题化,以便使我们集中注意导致流离失所的地缘政治条件,并引导我们更好和更广泛地理解世界遗产。二十一世纪。仅仅承认文化实践和记忆形式的转变,就违背了当前被认为是“有价值的”遗产的规范,并打开了承认超越那些经典定义的文化的大门。发表在FreeZe,发行199,十一月2018年12月,标题为“永久性继承”。主要形象:DHISHEH难民营,伯特勒姆,1950-70。礼貌:Getty Images.Suzanne Harris-Brandts.Suzanne Harris-Brandts.Suzanne Harris-Brandts是美国剑桥麻省理工学院(Massachusetts Institute of.,Cambridge)的加拿大建筑师和城市研究博士候选人。《199号》第一期刊登于《199号》2018年11月-12月巴勒斯坦非殖民化文化苏珊娜·哈里斯·布兰茨


Comments are closed.