Writing Palestine: Personal and National Identity Construction in Exile
Varma, Elizabeth Meera
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This thesis examines representations of nationhood, exile, belonging and nostalgia in three Palestinian memoirs: Ghada Karmi’s In Search of Fatima (2002), Mourid Barghouti’s I Saw Ramallah (1997) and Aziz Shihab’s Does the Land Remember Me? (2007). For diasporic Palestinians (such as these three) who are denied access to Palestine as a geographical entity, Palestine exists most strongly in and through narrative. As such, I examine the extent to which these memoirs are acts of nation-building. I explore the impact that living in exile has on the authors’ construction of personal and national identity, and the extent to which exile inhibits their ability to belong. Finally, I suggest that although these memoirs do not offer explicit solutions to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, they are important as measured, reasonable and imaginative acts of nation-building that dramatize and make accessible the plight of the Palestinian nation.