Occupied by Memory: The Intifada Generation and the Palestinian State of Emergency

Occupied by Memory: The Intifada Generation and the Palestinian State of Emergency

Occupied by Memory: The Intifada Generation and the Palestinian State of Emergency

Occupied by Memory: The Intifada Generation and the Palestinian State of Emergency

Synopsis

"Theoretically sharp and well written,Occupied by Memorypropels the scholarship on Palestinians and perpetual states of violence in new and promising directions. - Julie Peteet, author of Gender in Crisis: Women and the Palestinian Resistance Movement "The book will be of interest not only to scholars of the Middle East, but also to those interested in nationalism, discourse analysis, social movements and oral history." - Advance News

"In Occupied by Memory, John Collins asks the 'intifada generation' to remember aloud the first intifada, what it might have meant, and what it has come to mean for them now. At once provocative and sensitive, John Collins's narrative probes deeply into the history of the last decade of the Palestinian struggle for self-determination, human rights, and social justice." - Barbara Harlow, author of After Lives: Legacies of Revolutionary Writing

"A powerfully honest work and a tremendous contribution to the literature on memory and violence in the Middle East. Superbly narrated, Occupied by Memory is compassionate but not sentimental, theoretically astute, and empathetically written. - Ussama Makdisi, author of The Culture of Sectarianism: Community, History, and Violence in Nineteenth-Century Ottoman Lebanon Occupied by Memoryexplores the memories of the first Palestinian intifada. Based on extensive interviews with members of the "intifada generation," those who were between 10 and 18 years old when the intifada began in 1987, the book provides a detailed look at the intifada memories of ordinary Palestinians. These personal stories are presented as part of a complex and politically charged discursive field through which young Palestinians are invested with meaning by scholars, politicians, journalists, and other observers. What emerges from their memories is a sense of a generation caught between a past that is simultaneously traumatic, empowering, and exciting- and a future that is perpetually uncertain. In this sense, Collins argues that understanding the stories and the struggles of the intifada generation is a key to understanding the ongoing state of emergency for the Palestinian people. The book will be of interest not only to scholars of the Middle East but also to those interested in nationalism, discourse analysis, social movements, and oral history.

Excerpt

I've written this story before.

—Robert Fisk

This is a book about the possibilities of memory. It is rooted in the belief that thinking and talking about the past is a worthwhile enterprise, but one that is inevitably marked by uncertainty. No mere exercise in simple recollection or in repeating received ideas, an active engagement with the past is necessarily about the present and the future as well. It is about open-endedness, not self-assuredness. To approach the past in this way is to embrace what Stuart Hall calls a “politics without guarantees,” a politics that assumes that even under the most oppressive conditions, meaning can never be fixed.

This is also a book about memories of possibility, memories of a time when the window of opportunity for Palestinian liberation seemed to be more open than ever before. For members of the “intifada generation” (jīl al-intifāda), the fact that the window has appeared less open in subsequent years only enhances the power of those memories. As the title of this book suggests, they are “occupied by memory” in the most immediate way: the continuation of the Israeli occupation is a constant reminder of what they experienced, and what they were and were not able to accomplish during their youth. For the rest of us, a close look at their personal narratives, and their relationship to the present realities on the ground, provides its own unique window onto the dynamic, bustling intersection of historical and ideological forces that is the Palestinian struggle.

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