1948 to 1951: The racial politics of humanitarianism and return in Palestine

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The unresolved question of Palestinian displacement raises important considerations in a settler colonial era of reparations. One line of inquiry that remains relevant for thinking about the future of redress to Palestinian displacement is the following: How did an Indigenous Palestinian society with historical ties to land come to be governed as refugees external to the land? Examining a set of progress reports issued by Count Folke Bernadotte – the first UN appointed Mediator on Palestine – this paper considers how a land-based reparative justice question became folded into a humanitarian structure, which has now stretched the course of seven decades. Centering the struggle for return as a site of ontological contestation, I consider how we might read these key decisions made between 1948–1951 around redress and the emergence of humanitarian governance as part of, and within a wider genealogy of race and settler colonialism in Palestine.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1242-1269
JournalOñati Socio-Legal Series
Issue number6
Early online date3 Jun 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 3 Jun 2020


  • race
  • return
  • humanitarianism
  • redress
  • Palestine


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