Struggle and Survival in Palestine/Israel

Struggle and Survival in Palestine/Israel

Struggle and Survival in Palestine/Israel

Struggle and Survival in Palestine/Israel

Synopsis

Too often, the study of Israel/Palestine has focused on elite actors and major events. Struggle and Survival in Palestine/Israel takes advantage of new sources about everyday life and the texture of changes on the ground to put more than two dozen human faces on the past and present of the region. With contributions from a leading cast of scholars across disciplines, the stories here are drawn from a variety of sources, from stories passed down through generations to family archives, interviews, and published memoirs. As these personal narratives are transformed into social biographies, they explore how the protagonists were embedded in but also empowered by their social and historical contexts. This wide-ranging and accessible volume brings a human dimension to a conflict-ridden history, emphasizing human agency, introducing marginal voices alongside more well-known ones, defying "typical" definitions of Israelis and Palestinians, and, ultimately, redefining how we understand both "struggle" and "survival" in a troubled region.

Excerpt

It is with great pleasure that I welcome Mark LeVine and Gershon Shafir’s Struggle and Survival in Palestine/Israel to the library of works in the emerging genre of social biography. At a time when many are frozen in place by fear of change and outdated ideologies, this book offers a wealth of portraits of individuals—Jews, Muslims, Christians, others—caught in the talons of history. The more we focus on individual lives, I believe, the less convincing the standard narratives of the Israel/Palestine drama become and the more the common humanity of all of the participants is evident. How and why people did things, as well as the often unforeseen consequences of their actions, are not readily explained by the standard toolbox of the social sciences. By plunging us into the biographies of ordinary (and not so ordinary) Israeli and Palestinian men and women, this book provides a salutary alternative to the limitations of structural approaches (the state, the economy, culture) to the tangled history of Israel/Palestine. LeVine and Shafir provide us with a varied canvas of human interactions that constitutes the backdrop of the present impasse.

Upon consideration, the choices individuals make under duress turn out to be far more imaginative, and their consequences more far reaching, than is generally appreciated. The individuals whose lives are recounted in this book pose a continual challenge to not just our historical but also our moral imaginations. Thus the sudden decision to resist authority (whether the colonial or the postcolonial state), like the rustling of butterfly wings that gives birth to a typhoon, can have enormous unforeseen historical consequences. The survivor who becomes an oppressor, the Palestinian peasant who undergoes multiple exiles—these are paradigmatic experiences too, even as they are individual destinies. So are the . . .

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