'Exile & Return': Sites of refuge, refugees from the village of Miska, 2010

In order to put the question of the return of Palestinian refugees back on the political agenda, it is necessary to bypass the ideological debate and move towards a realm of thinking grounded in physicality.

The spatial planner has the possibility of initiating this leap by confronting the general public with a re-reading of the conflict from a spatial perspective. Towards this end, the skills of the architect need not be applied to the rigour of detailed planning, but instead as a means to provoke discussions and to make different futures imaginable.

Rather than assuming ‘return’ to be a discrete event that occurs only within a narrowly defined future scenario, the ‘narratives’ of return presented here are conceived as vehicles to investigate a spectrum of spatial possibilities implicit in pre-existing and ongoing practices.

These narratives draw on processes not limited to symbolic acts of memorial, but also on the myriad forces already shaping – and reshaping – the material environment of Israel-Palesitne. Offering interpretations of the ways in which these may already be laying the seeds of an alternative future.

Images of Presence – Nina Valerie Kolowratnik

Re-Emergence – Ahmad Barclay

Traces of Exile – Bert Ruelens

reTURN – Maria Rocco

The projects featured above are extracts from the work of Nina Kolowratnik, Ahmad Barclay, Bert Ruelens and Maria Rocco. The work stems from a shared involvement in the ‘Laboratory of Returns’ in the summer of 2009; a project conceived by Decolonizing Architecture in collaboration with Zochrot.

If you would like more information on any of these projects, or if you would be interested in hosting ‘Narratives of Return’ – the exhibition based on these projects – please contact us at info [at]

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