The Movements of Words
Adania Shibli

Saturday 8 May 2010

"This paper traces how the constant fragmentation of Palestinian territory and subsequently redrawing its borders, are reflected in texts written by various Palestinian thinkers, writers and poets, between the years 1917 and 2009.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, control over what is now recognized as historical Palestine, or parts of it, has shifted almost every two decades, between different countries. The Ottoman rule of Palestine, which started four centuries earlier, came to a halt by the end of First World War, as British colonialism commenced. Then three years after the end of Second World War, and the creation of the state of Israel, control over Palestinian territory became divided between Jordan, Egypt and Israel. Then twenty years later, Palestine became under total Israeli military occupation, with a limited civic control by Jordan and Egypt. Twenty fives year later, in early 1990s, control over Palestine was again subject to changes, with some parts of the Palestinian territory becoming under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian National Authority whereby the major parts remained under Israeli occupation.

The present paper identifies some of the most influential authors that marked each of the periods of different rulers. Amongst these authors are: educator and writer Khalil Sakakini (Jerusalem, 1880-1953), writer and politician Emile Habibi (Haifa, 1921-1996), novelist and feminist Sahar Khalifa (Nablus, 1941-), poet Khaled Abdallah (Gaza 1970-), and poet Anas al-Aila (Qalqilia, 1975-). Other major writers which the paper also mentions are Ghassan Kanafani, Mu’een Besaiso, and Alaa Hlehel. The paper is particularly interested in tracing, on the map, the movement of the characters as depicted in various texts--be they novels, memoirs, or poems--, written by these authors. In so doing, it attempts to expound how such movements, are managed by these maps that in turn are affected by the shifting rule over Palestine. Furthermore, it tries to identify how the narrative structure of these text, in both their form and content, have been shaped by such maps and the reality they create on the ground with regards to the daily life of Palestinians."

-Adania Shibli