Education in Exile: Palestinians and the Hashemite Regime, 1948-1967
Mezna Qato

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship

Award Year



University of Cambridge

Primary Discipline

History of Education
After the 1948 war, and the dispossession of the majority of Palestinians into Jordanian territory, an educational infrastructure was developed to accommodate refugee students. This project unpacks the consequences of education as crisis management and in so doing reveals political and social ambivalences by refugee youth as they are subjected to state attempts to de-nationalise them though they remain vested in a project of self-determination.With archival materials and oral histories, I examine how, despite intense state and international pressures, education came to be understood, framed, and enacted as a potentially emancipatory exercise by refugees. I trace evolving curriculum debates, pedagogical practices, educational built environments, and show how they came to embody the high stakes of representational power and anti-colonial possibility. However, the work weaves these debates and practices by students and teachers with those of UN and government bureaucrats, international development interlocutors, and intelligence officials and inspectors, and in so doing challenges nationalist teleology and triumphalism by grounding educational potential in refugee desires for class mobility, employment, as well as emancipation. Through this work, I aim to offer a history of refugee schooling lived as a form of pedagogical fugitivity; one that seeks to make a way out from under a corrosive dyad of collective political claims versus socio-economic aspiration.
About Mezna Qato
Mezna Qato is Junior Research Fellow in the History, Politics and Culture of the Modern Middle East at King’s College, University of Cambridge. She was previously Ibrahim Abu-Lughod Fellow at the Center for Palestine Studies, Columbia University, and earned her doctorate in history from the University of Oxford. For her writing, research, artistic and archival work, she has received grants, fellowships and residencies from, among others, the British Academy, Yaddo, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Palestinian American Research Center, the Karim Rida Said Foundation, and the Fulbright Commission. Her work focuses on social histories of refugees and communities in exile. A main aspect of her work studies the formation of educational regimes for refugees, particularly in the modern Middle East, and education as a site for understanding relationships of refugee students and teachers to governments, international regimes, and each other. She is active in a variety of pedagogical, historical and community initiatives, including support of Palestinian archival and library collections. As part of the EU-funded Civitas Research collective, she is the author of the largest socio-historical database of Palestinian refugee and exile communities housed at the University of Oxford.

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