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Palestinians Born in Exile

Diaspora and the Search for a Homeland

By Juliane Hammer

Publication Year: 2005

In the decade following the 1993 Oslo Peace Accords, some 100,000 diasporic Palestinians returned to the West Bank and Gaza. Among them were children and young adults who were born in exile and whose sense of Palestinian identity was shaped not by lived experience but rather through the transmission and re-creation of memories, images, and history. As a result, “returning” to the homeland that had never actually been their home presented challenges and disappointments for these young Palestinians, who found their lifeways and values sometimes at odds with those of their new neighbors in the West Bank and Gaza. This original ethnography records the experiences of Palestinians born in exile who have emigrated to the Palestinian homeland. Juliane Hammer interviews young adults between the ages of 16 and 35 to learn how their Palestinian identity has been affected by living in various Arab countries or the United States and then moving to the West Bank and Gaza. Their responses underscore how much the experience of living outside of Palestine has become integral to the Palestinian national character, even as Palestinians maintain an overwhelming sense of belonging to one another as a people.

Published by: University of Texas Press


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pp. v

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pp. vii-ix

This excerpt is from a rap song by the Palestinian American hip-hop artist Iron Sheik. The song tells the story of a young Palestinian American who tried to go to Palestine but was detained by Israeli security forces and subsequently banned from entering the country. ...

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pp. xi-xiii

First of all I have to thank the young Palestinians around the world who agreed to share their stories and ideas with me. I have promised all of them anonymity, which makes it impossible to thank them by name. Without their willingness to work with me, and without their trust, this study would not have been possible. ...

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Chapter 1: Introduction: Palestinian Migration, Refugees, and Return

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pp. 1-22

Migration in its various forms is a fact of the life of many people in our time. The last fifty years have seen particularly significant changes in numbers of migrants and patterns of migration.An integral part of the modern and postmodern migration debate concerns the relevance of national and local identities vis-

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Chapter 2: Palestinian National Identity, Memory, and History

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pp. 23-49

National identity in different forms is something young Palestinians bring back from their diaspora locations to Palestine when they return. They do not have their own traumatic memories of 1948, but they know about the Nakba as a part of the collective memory of their people. ...

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Chapter 3: The Country of My Dreams

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pp. 50-74

Exile and diaspora are the antithesis of home and homeland. The traumatic loss of the homeland strengthens the connection of refugees and exiles to the homeland, and it continues to play an important role in their individual and collective imagination, constituting a central aspect of their self-definition. ...

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Chapter 4: Return to Palestine: Dreams and Realities

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pp. 75-114

Return, al-'awda, is one of the central concepts of Palestinian ideology and life. It includes the dream of return, in political expression and literature, and the right of return. The right to return is a subject of international law, Palestinian demands, and Israeli rejections. ...

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Chapter 5: The Return Process in Comparison

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pp. 115-166

Many factors need to be considered for the description and understanding of the experience of returnees to Palestine, which is shaped by a combination of ideology, memories of previous generations, notions of exile, experience of diaspora, and yearning for homeland. ...

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Chapter 6: Rewriting of Identities in the Context of Diaspora and Return

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pp. 167-199

Return as a process involves different stages and confronts the young returnees with a challenge to their previous identity as members of Palestinian diaspora communities. In order to substantiate the thesis of a rewriting of identity during and as a result of the return process, this chapter describes different aspects of identity ...

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Chapter 7: Home and the Future of Palestinian Identities

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pp. 200-222

Has being without a home and homeland become the home of the Palestinian diaspora? This chapter is ‘‘returning’’ to the question of home and homeland touched upon throughout this study. Have the young Palestinians interviewed for this study really returned? Do they feel at home now? ...

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pp. 223-226

Since I left Palestine in the summer of 1999, much has happened to Palestine, the Palestinians in general, and the respondents of this study in particular. I pointed to the events and developments of the Second Intifada and its impact on Palestinian society in the preface. ...

Appendix: List of Respondents

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pp. 227-228


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pp. 229-238


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pp. 239-260


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pp. 261-271

E-ISBN-13: 9780292797659
E-ISBN-10: 0292797656
Print-ISBN-13: 9780292702950
Print-ISBN-10: 0292702957

Page Count: 287
Publication Year: 2005