Life on the cusp of form: In search of worldliness with Palestinian refugees in Tyre, Lebanon

Sylvain Perdigon


This essay argues for making worldliness a question for anthropological inquiry, and a heuristic concept for exploring how life itself is unequally capacitated or disabled under current conditions of existence. I take worldliness in its widest sense to refer to the practical, material, semiotic entanglements by way of which human and other beings, upon “appearing” (Arendt) into the world, extend and anchor themselves in it. A form of life, on that account, mediates not just the formation of meaning, as anthropologists have long used the concept. It also mediates the possibility of worldliness itself as it intensifies and amplifies the appearingness of some while curtailing the insertion into the world of others. These conceptual claims emerge out of, and are embedded in, an effort to give a precise ethnographic account of the inequality of lives introduced into the world with the slot assigned for the (in this case, Palestinian) refugee.


Refugees, Palestine, life, ontology, possession, worldliness

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.1086/701101