The latest RSC Working Paper, ‘Politics resettled: the case of the Palestinian diaspora in Chile’ by Victor Beaume (MSc 2017-2018), focuses on the subject of resettlement.
Along with repatriation and local integration, resettlement is considered one of three traditional ‘durable solutions’ for refugees. It is no secret that resettlement is an inherently political tool at the national and international level, but Beaume argues that resettlement needs to be better understood as a political event and process. He takes the example of 117 Palestinian refugees resettled to Chile from Iraq in 2008.
In parallel to the ‘formal’ implementation of the project by the Chilean Government, UNHCR and their NGO partner the Vicaría, the existing long-settled Palestinian community supported their ‘compatriots’ by providing material and cultural resources. The paper delves into the motivations, worries and political repercussions that characterised this Chilean-Palestinian community’s involvement in the resettlement. It focuses on how the project was negotiated, framed and performed at both macro and micro levels by various actors within and peripheral to the Palestinian community in Chile. By conceptualising Chilean-Palestinians as a ‘diaspora’, Beaume argues that the arrival of Palestinian refugees was an event where different (re-)formulations of (Chilean-)Palestinian identity and politics were centre stage. Using this project as a case study and applying diaspora theory as a framework, he sheds light upon the politics of resettlement, moving beyond mere policy and state-centric considerations.