her hands.this one
Her hands. @ E. Fiddian-Qasmiyeh, Baddawi refugee camp, North Lebanon, April 2018

The Hands are Hers

Yousif M. Qasmiyeh – University of Oxford

The hands are hers – fractured urns of intimacy and anticipation.

They would cut, mend, darn, comb, bathe, clean, feel and above all submit themselves as seals of presence at the UNRWA distribution centres.

In this photograph, the face is outside the frame but the hands are certainly hers.

She is cutting runner beans, meticulously removing their fibrous ends and any impurities.

Her hands, the knife and the beans against the tin are the only elements in this landscape.

They all move in different directions and yet in total synchrony like a methodical machine.

The knife blade and the tin tray.

The hands and the beans.

The tray is the base, or more precisely the deathbed, for the fallen and everything perishable.

The hands are captured as close to and far from each other at the same time.

What is inextricable therein is sustained in the continuum of cutting, trimming and eventually the falling of the beans as singular and weakened parts.

The hands are certainly hers to the extent of complete dissolution and resurrection.



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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