Voices of the Nakba
A Living History of Palestine
First-generation Palestinian refugees recall life before and after the Nakba
***Winner of an English PEN Award 2021***
During the 1948 war more than 750,000 Palestinian Arabs fled or were violently expelled from their homes by Zionist militias. The legacy of the Nakba - which translates to ‘disaster’ or ‘catastrophe’ - lays bare the violence of the ongoing Palestinian plight.
Voices of the Nakba collects the stories of first-generation Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, documenting a watershed moment in the history of the modern Middle East through the voices of the people who lived through it.
The interviews, with commentary from leading scholars of Palestine and the Middle East, offer a vivid journey into the history, politics and culture of Palestine, defining Palestinian popular memory on its own terms in all its plurality and complexity.
Diana Allan is Associate Professor of Anthropology at McGill University. She is a filmmaker and the co-founder of the Nakba Archive. Her ethnography, Refugees of the Revolution: Experiences of Palestinian Exile, (Stanford University Press, 2013) won the MEMO Palestine academic book award and the American Anthropological Association, Middle East Section Award.
'Through the pages of this book the reader can hear, feel, experience and understand more about the Nakba than by reading any other book on the subject'- Raja Shehadeh, author of 'Going Home: A Walk Through Fifty Years of Occupation'
'Moving and thoughtful [...] With their silences, ellipses and jags of storytelling, the refugee voices invite us to imagine the lives torn asunder by the violence of the Nakba'- Laleh Khalili, Queen Mary University of London and author of 'Heroes and Martyrs of Palestine: The Politics of National Commemoration' (CUP, 2019)
‘Brings to life the experiences of ordinary Palestinians in pre-1948 Palestine and the traumatic experience of war and exile, written by leading scholars in the field. Of special value in this volume is the section on control and resistance during the Mandate dealing with policing, and narratives of rebellion’- Salim Tamari, Professor of Sociology (Emeritus), Birzeit University
'A truly impressive collection [...] An opportunity to reconsider whether what the Palestinians faced was victimhood rather than an act of colonialism'- Dawn Chatty, Emeritus Professor of Anthropology and Forced Migration, University of Oxford
'Imaginatively curated and framed [...] A brilliant contribution to the current moment as the world finally understands the true nature of the Palestinian struggle'- Ahdaf Soueif, author of 'The Map of Love'
'The stories gathered here are the fruit of perseverant gathering. Their careful, deliberate, loving translation bear the sense and sensualities of Palestinian existence. 'Voices of the Nakba' shows how and why those who will not forget will never be forgotten'- Fred Moten, cultural theorist and author of 'The Feel Trio'
'The oral history of colonised people is a lifeline against the coloniser's official history with its violent erasure. This excellent book centres the marginalised voices of Palestinians, reflecting the rich and complex tapestry of their experiences'- Ibtisam Azem, author of 'The Book of Disappearance'
'A comprehensive, illuminating, and moving work of scholarship, which is also, quite simply, a work of art'- Liron Mor, Assistant Professor, Department of Comparative Literature, University of California, Irvine
‘A monumental achievement [...] Enhancing the use of oral history as a research methodology, this book is a major addition to Nakba Studies and the living history of modern Palestine. A must read for those interested in the roots of the Palestinian refugee question and a just future for Palestine.’- Professor Nur Masalha, Palestinian historian and formerly Director of the Centre for Religion and History at St. Mary's University, Twickenham
List of Figures
Map of Palestine
Note on Translation and Transliteration
Foreword by Mahmoud Zeidan
Introduction: Past Continuous by Diana Allan
PART I: Life in Pre-1948 Palestine
1. Village Life in Palestine - Rochelle Davis
2. Of Forests and Trees: City Life in 1930s Palestine - Sherene Seikaly
3. The Margin and the Centre in Narrating Pre-1948 Palestine - Amirah Silmi
4. Mandated Memory: The Schooling of Palestine in Nicola Ziadeh’s and Anis Sayigh’s Pre-1948 Recollections - Dyala Hamzah
PART II: The British Mandate and Palestinian and Arab Resistance
5. Motivations and Tensions of Palestinian Police Service under British Rule - Alex Winder
6. Storying the Great Arab Revolt: Narratives of Resistance During 1936–39 - Jacob Norris
7. Songs of Resistance - Ted Swedenburg
PART III: War and Ethnic Cleansing
8. The Roots of the Nakba - Salman Abu Sitta
9. Four Villages, Four Stories: Ethnic Cleansing Massacres in al-Jalil - Saleh Abdel Jawad
10. Remembering the Fight - Laila Parsons
PART IV: Flight and Exile
11. The Dispossession of Lydda - Lena Jayyusi
12. Scars of the Mind: Trauma, Gender and Counter-Memories of the Nakba - Ruba Salih
13. The Politics of Listening - Cynthia Kreichati
Afterword: Oral History in Palestinian Studies by Rosemary Sayigh
Contributors and Translators
eBook ISBN: 9780745342931
150mm x 230mm