The year 1948 is marked as the year of the Nakba, or Catastrophe, in Palestinian and wider Arab popular memory discourses. The Nakba saw the conquest of Palestine and the establishment of the state of Israel through the expulsion of more than half of historic Palestine’s population, and the destruction of Palestinians’ cultural, social and political institutions in the conquered territories. Once a rallying cry for the pan-Arab liberation movements of the 1950s and 1960s, the Nakba has today been relegated to a secondary place in the Palestinian Authority’s state-building project, despite the Palestinians’ ongoing colonized and stateless reality. This workshop will examine the new meanings and significations of the past/present Nakba for Palestinian refugees in Syria, Lebanon and the “internal” refugees within the state of Israel, as narrated through their memories of an unresolved past in an unresolved present. It will raise questions around the absence of the Nakba from the literature on loss and trauma, the articulation of Nakba memories by internal refugee women as a form of resistance, and the Nakba itself as a site of competing and shifting significations and meanings.
Anaheed Al-Hardan is a sociologist and a Postdoctoral Fellow at the ICI Berlin. Her research focuses on Palestinian refugees, with recent publications on refugees’ social movements, decolonial research methodologies in refugee studies and collective memories of the Nakba. She is currently writing a book on memories of the 1948 Nakba in the Palestinian refugee community in Syria.
Ibtisam Azem is a Berlin/New York-based writer and freelance journalist, and a correspondent for DW-TV-Arabic. She is a co-editor of Jadaliyya Ezine and the editor of its Arabic page. She has published numerous essays on the politics and culture of the Arab world. Her first novel Sariq al-Nawm (The Sleep Thief) was published in Beirut (Dar al-Jamal, 2011). Her second novel is forthcoming in 2013.
Sonja Hegasy is the Vice-Director of the Zentrum Moderner Orient (ZMO) in Berlin. She is the head of the research group “Transforming Memories: Cultural Production and Personal/Public Memory in Lebanon and Morocco” at the ZMO. She co-edited a special issue of the Journal for Middle Eastern Women's Studies on “Gendered Memory in the Middle East and North Africa: Cultural Norms, Social Practices, and Transnational Regimes” (Winter 2012).
Fatma Kassem-Agbaria is an independent sociologist currently lecturing at Sakhnin College in the Galilee. Her research interests are in the field of gender studies, with a focus on mechanisms of power and control, memory and conflict resolution. She has published on Palestinian Bedouin women, education, gender and conflict resolution. Her latest publication is Palestinian Women: Narrative Histories and Gendered Memories (Zed Books, 2011).
Rosemary Sayigh is an anthropologist and oral historian living in Lebanon. Her work has focused on Palestinian refugees in Lebanon and in segments of historic Palestine. She is the author of Palestinians: From Peasants to Revolutionaries (Zed Books, 1979), Too Many Enemies: The Palestinian Experience in Lebanon (Zed Books, 1994), and the e-Book Voices: Palestinian Women Narrate Displacement.
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