• 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.

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  • Harbingers of Feminism: A New Look at the Works of Pioneering Palestinian Women Writers

    This article brings to light the harbingers of the tradition of Palestinian women’s writing in a gendered reading of the works of two leading, post-1948 women writers, Samira ʿAzzam and Najwa Qaʿwar-Farah. The article examines why literary critics ignored the feminine dimension of these writers’ works, and saw them as imitating and adapting existing patterns and conventions of writing. The article shows, how both thematically and stylistically, these early writers highlighted their feminine presence and that of their heroines; to what extent they succeeded in imbuing their writing with feminist messages; and how they enabled later women writers by laying the foundations of a tradition of women’s literature.

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  • 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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