Migration, Mobilities and the Arab Spring

Migration, Mobilities and the Arab Spring

Spaces of Refugee Flight in the Eastern Mediterranean

Edited by Natalia Ribas-Mateos

Confronting questions of globalization, mobilities and space in the Mediterranean, and more specifically in the eastern Mediterranean, this book introduces a new type of complexity and ambiguity to the study of the global. In this theoretical frame an increasingly urban articulation of global logics and struggles, and an escalating use of urban space to make political claims, not only by citizens but also by foreigners, can be found. By emphasizing the interplay between global, regional and local phenomena, the book examines new forms and conditions, such as the transformation of borders, the reconfiguration of transnational communities, the agency of transnational families, new mobilities and diasporas, and transnational networks of humanitarian response.

Chapter 6: The field before the battle: Palestinian mobilities and the Gaza–Israel–Egypt triangular border before (and after) the 2011 Egyptian uprising

Lorenzo Navone

Subjects: geography, human geography, population studies, politics and public policy, migration, social policy and sociology, migration, urban and regional studies, migration


This chapter is based on ethnographic materials collected during several fieldwork experiences in the borderland between Egypt, Israel and the Gaza Strip between 2009 and 2011. The study is based on participant observation and on several interviews conducted around the border crossing on the Egyptian side. During the random and unpredictable openings of the Rafah border crossing, thousands of people queue in front of the terminal, waiting to cross. Through the presentation of some paradigmatic case studies, this chapter attempts to answer some crucial questions: How does this ‘triangular’ border work? When and where does it work? Who is allowed to cross it? Who is not? What emerges from the study is a widespread perception that the border, unsteadily balanced under the pressure of multiple forces, is not functioning. What re-configuration has occurred in the border system since the Egyptian revolution? What are its effects on Palestinian mobility? The new spatialization of the border has broadened its magnitude, further complicating its identification, the understanding of its functioning and its crossing.

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