Deterritorialization of Belonging: Between Home and Unhomely in Miral al-Tahawy’s Brooklyn Heights and Salman Natur’s She, the Autumn, and Me
In this article, I argue that Mīrāl al-Ṭaḥāwī’s Brooklyn Heights (Brūklīn Hāyts, 2010) and Salmān Nāṭūr’s She, the Autumn and Me (Hiya, Anā, wa-l-Kharīf, 2011) call into question the very fixedness of the concepts of “homeland” and “diaspora/abroad,” and obscure the distinction between the indigene and the relocated diasporic subject. She, the Autumn and Me (Hiya, Anā, wa-l-Kharīf, 2011) is the most recent novel by Palestinian Israeli writer Salmān Nāṭūr (b. 1949), a seasoned writer of short stories, novels and critical writings. Brooklyn Heights is the fourth and most recent novel of the Egyptian Bedouin Mīrāl al-Ṭaḥāwī (b. 1969), who stands out as the first Egyptian Bedouin woman to publish modern Arabic prose. Through their portrayal of characters who are outcasts or loners, these contemporary novels complicate and deconstruct axioms which imply a reciprocal association between homeland and belonging, on the one hand, and exile/diaspora and foreignness or estrangement, on the other. In this study, I interrogate portrayals of the homeland in both texts, as it is conceived through shades of belonging and foreignness; and how “abroad” is portrayed vis-à-vis an originary homeland, in layered diasporic terms, and yet also conflated with home and homeland.
The Palestinian Historiography of Family Leadership during the British Mandate
This article seeks to expand the study of Palestinian Arab women’s self-identification and social and political activism by examining how Arab Christian women viewed, shaped, and managed their participation in the project of defining Palestinian national identity during the period of British colonial occupation. During the Mandate period, elite Christian women made particular use of mission schools and Christian women’s charitable organizations as platforms for promoting a vision of Palestinian nationalism as modern, nonsectarian, and politically progressive, in hopes of creating a Palestinian national identity in which they could claim a central role. As the Mandate wore on, though, it became increasingly evident that the presentation of Christian women as central to the expression of a broadly based, nonsectarian, modernizing, Westernizing Palestinian national identity was belied somewhat by the communal and class consciousness that education in elite Christian schools and membership in charitable organizations engendered. The way in which this purportedly middle-class, nonsectarian nationalist vision was developed and articulated in highly class- and communally conscious venues ultimately limited its purview and linked it with oppressive colonial practices in the eyes of much of the Palestinian Arab population.
Landscape Representations in Palestinian Art and Israeli Art Discourse: The Case of Asim Abu Shaqra
This article will survey the historical shift and ongoing transformation of Israeli discourse on landscape representations in Palestinian art, as illustrated by the case of Asim Abu Shaqra’s (1961-1990) artwork. Abu Shaqra is one of the very few Palestinian artists who have entered the canon of Israeli art. After graduating in 1986 from the Kalisher Art Academy in Tel Aviv, Abu Shaqra had his first solo exhibition in 1988, at Rap Gallery in Tel Aviv. Over the two subsequent years—until his premature death from cancer in 1990, at the age of twenty-nine—he had three more solo shows and participated in four group exhibitions. In 1994, four years after his death, a comprehensive retrospective exhibition of his work was presented at Tel Aviv Museum’s Helena Rubinstein Pavilion.
The art discourse on Abu Shaqra’s oeuvre, from the very beginning of his activity in the 1980s down to this day, reflects the historical transformations that the Israeli artistic field has undergone in relation to the work of Arab-Palestinian artists who graduated from Israeli art schools. Abu Shaqra’s 1994 retrospective exhibition—which took place in the wake of the dramatic period that began with the outbreak of the first Intifada in 1987 and ended with the Oslo Accords in the early 1990s—marked a historical turning point in the discourse on Palestinian art created in Israel. The rise of a public debate over the nature of Palestinian identity, made possible by the peace process and the Oslo Accords, included a process (still unfolding today) of growing recognition of the Palestinian culture created in Israel. This recognition, in turn, has generated a significant shift in the interpretive templates governing the reception of landscape representations in the work of Palestinian graduates of Israeli art schools.
The Arab Jew Debates: Media, Culture, Politics, History
For the past twenty-five years, and particularly during the last decade, the idea of the Arab Jew has been debated in multiple forums in different parts of the world. The Arab Jew is represented in literature and film, discussed in blogs and social media, and featured in live performances. It has informed scholarship in literary and cultural studies, sociology, and history, in Israel, the Arab world, Europe, and North America. Yet the term “Arab Jew” remains controversial, especially in Israel, where it is widely viewed as a left-wing political concept. This article surveys the Arab Jew’s full range of expression to date, emphasizing the reciprocal movement of ideas across different geographies and between discursive spheres. It argues that the Arab Jew idea has developed as both a project of political intervention into the present-day separation of Arabness from Jewishness and a project of reconstruction focusing on the Jewish past in the MENA region. Examining recent episodes in the Israeli public sphere, the article investigates how contemporary discussions about Arab Jewish identity and culture utilize competing views of history. It concludes by reconsidering the relevance of the “Arab Jew” to the burgeoning historical scholarship on Jews in the MENA region during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
The Forces of Presence and Absence : Aspects of Palestinian Identity Transformation in Israel between 1967 and 1987
This article examines Palestinian identity transformation in Israel during the years between 1967 and 1987. Fifteen Palestinian novels and autobiographies were published in Israel during this period. My article will focus on a group of five from among them that I call counteraction novels. Counteraction novels show the failure of the Zionist modernist paradigm—according to which modernization and integration of Palestinians in Israel are complementary processes—by reflecting a Palestinian distinction between modernism and Zionism. On the one hand, the novels reflect that Palestinians in Israel are grappling with issues posed to them by modernization. On the other hand, counteraction novels present a uniform rejection of Zionism’s erasure and alienation of Palestinians in Israel. I also argue that counteraction novels do not portray a “positive” Palestinian identity; they do not voice what Palestinian identity is.
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