Monday, August 15, 2011

Palestinian Women: Narrative Histories

From the World News:
It is perhaps an inevitable irony that a recent spate of anti-Nakba polemic in Israel has placed the topic firmly on the public agenda, stimulating not only press and media coverage but also renewed interest in the more serious histories of the period. Dr Fatmeh Kassem’s book is therefore most timely. This book does not deal with the macro-history of ‘who hit who back first, and harder’. Rather it focuses on the micro, on the lives of elderly Palestinian women who survived the emptying of the Palestinian towns of Lyd(Lod) and Ramleh (Ramla) in 1948 by the Israeli forces, towns now incorporated into the Israeli state.

These oral histories come from women who are multi-marginalized: as Palestinian second-class citizens living in Jewish-Arab so-called mixed towns; as working-class, often illiterate, subjects and, not least, as women silenced by the male dominated discourse of their own, and the wider society. In her readable and moving book, Kassem has not only salvaged important memories of painful personal and collective histories, she has empowered her interviewees to speak , perhaps for the first time, in their own voices and given them a place on the public stage. At the same time, this is a work of theoretical substance and a significant contribution to the growing body of literature on the Nakba as well as to feminist discourse analysis.

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