Suspicion and the Economy of Trust among Palestinian Refugees in Lebanon

in The Cambridge Journal of Anthropology
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My ethnography of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon (2005–2010) points to a strong disposition towards suspicion associated with refugeeness. This, in turn, highlights politico-moral economies of trust, indexed by honour, that become what I call boundary-maintenance disciplinary practices. The dynamics of suspicion and trust, propelled by social crisis and uprooting, shape all groups, from their social support systems and marriages to collective political, ethnic and religious allegiances. Uprooting tends to be associated with displacement of the subject's social order, bringing about an intensified sense of intra-group bonds and a concomitant suspicion towards those outside this group. This, in turn, heightens a necessity on the part of refugee subjects to reflect and shape networks of trust, expressed in a moral idiom, even when decisions are known to be political. This article analyses some of the dynamic between suspicion and trust in conditions of social crisis and refugeeness.

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