The Palestinian Diaspora: Formation of Identities and Politics of Homeland

The Palestinian Diaspora: Formation of Identities and Politics of Homeland

The Palestinian Diaspora: Formation of Identities and Politics of Homeland

The Palestinian Diaspora: Formation of Identities and Politics of Homeland

Synopsis

From the refugee camps of the Lebanon to the relative prosperity of life in the USA, the Palestinian diaspora has been dispersed across the world. In this pioneering study, Helena Lindholm Schulz examines the ways in which Palestinian identity has been formed in the diaspora through constant longing for a homeland lost. In so doing, the author advances the debate on the relationship between diaspora and the creation of national identity as well as on nationalist politics tied to a particular territory. But The Palestinian Diaspora also sheds light on the possibilities opened up by a transnational existence, the possibility of new, less territorialized identities, even in a diaspora as bound to the idea of an idealized homeland as the Palestinian. Members of the diaspora form new lives in new settings and the idea of homeland becomes one important, but not the only, source of identity. Ultimately though, Schulz argues, the strong attachment to Palestine makes the diaspora crucial in any understandings of how to formulate a viable strategy for peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

Excerpt

My then 5-year-old daughter once said, going home from kindergarten and discussing her future 'marriage plans' with one of her friends: 'Mom, when I am grown up, maybe it will be nicer for me to live in a life of my own.' Now, that's not the way you would put it in correct Swedish; it would, rather, be 'live in a place of my own' or 'house of my own', or, with a different meaning, 'have my own life'. But thinking about it, I found the phrasing rather wonderful. Maybe that's how it ought to be; maybe we don't live in places after all, maybe we live in lives. That would be a radical transformation of the ways in which we have considered place throughout the modern era.

Although I was enchanted with Rebecka's ideas about life and place, feelings of stability, security, continuity and harmony connected to a place are prominent indeed. 'Place' carries profound significance. However, 'place' seldom exists on its own terms, but is defined by social relations, by socioeconomic conditions, by politics and power. Writing this book, I've been thinking a lot about place. About what place means in life. And what losing a sense of place might mean. What does, for example, the place/locality that I have found for myself and my family entail? Being forcibly and violently evacuated from the place that you have chosen for yourself does indeed have a traumatising potential. Studying the literature and the material for this book, speaking to Palestinians about their life and exile, as well as following the news of Kosovars, Afghans, Chechnians, Bosnians, Rwandans fleeing for their lives in contemporary times, I have been trying to imagine what it would be like to take my youngest son in my arms, my daughter by her hand, and together with my husband walk away from our house on the edge of the forest, trying to avoid snipers and hearing the eerie sound of tanks and helicopters approaching. I have also been trying to figure out what it would feel like to live in a refugee camp with my children, to constantly rehearse how wonderful life used to be

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