The Wall 

Yousif M. Qasmiyeh (University of Oxford) and Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh (Refugee Hosts, UCL) 

The original wall in Baddawi refugee camp (c) E. Fiddian-Qasmiyeh, North Lebanon, April 2018

According to my father, this is the original wall of our old house which was erected in Baddawi camp in the mid-50s.

The wall is now an additional barrier between our neighbours and us. A distance that has been multiply plastered over time.

The subdued pink, contaminated by the white undercoat, was the colour my father used to paint the wall for the last time.

To my mother’s disappointment, whenever we leant on the wall some of the paint powder came off – as though everything were disintegrating then and now and for this act of disintegration to complete its course it had to travel with us.

The rusty colander and grill grate on the wall look deserted save from time.

Their only purpose is to occupy the wall.

The plastic clothes hanger suspended from the washing-line is a new addition to hold the damp cloths my mother uses daily.

From the rusty utensils to the hanger there lies a genre that can neither be crossed nor reconstituted.

In other words, it is only the shape of narrowness, as in genres, that is capable of redefining itself by itself.


This piece continues a series of poetic responses to photographs taken by Refugee Hosts PI Dr Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh during a field-trip to Baddawi refugee camp and the neighbourhood of Jebel al-Baddawi in North Lebanon, and to a range of neighbourhoods in Beirut in March-April 2018. Written by Refugee Hosts Writer-in-Residence Yousif M. Qasmiyeh and/or PI Dr Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh, they reflect on everyday encounters in and dynamics of displacement.


Photograph by © Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh, Baddawi refugee camp, North Lebanon, April 2018.

 Read more creative responses to/as our research in our Creative Archive


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