Palestinian Historians, Historians of Palestine

A symposium entitled “Palestinian historians/historians of Palestine: writing under the Mandate and beyond” took place this Friday at King’s College, organized by Dr. Sarah Irving. The day was packed full of discussion on Palestinian historiography and papers focusing on Palestinian academics and historians, figures such as Abdul Latif Tibawi, Arif al-Arif,  Izzat Darwaza, Nicola Ziadeh, Jabra Ibrahim Jabra and Darwish Al-Miqdadi.

As someone focused on Arab(ic) literature, much of this material was entirely new to me — for example, my familiarity with Jabra is based almost entirely on his literary translations and his novels and thus mostly focused on his time in exile.  I was less familiar with how his trajectory compares to other graduates of the Arab College of Jerusalem. This was the topic of a paper by Hilary Falb Kalisman which addressed “How […] Palestinian intellectuals’ imbrication in the Mandate’s government education system shape[d] their trajectories post 1948.”

Haneen Naamneh’s paper, partly on Al-A’rif and on “local urban identity in Jerusalem under Jordanian rule” emphasised the importance of examining the often under-examined period between the Nakba and the 1967 Naksa.

I was also struck by the case of Al-Miqdadi’s secondary school textbook “History of the Arab Nation”, and how his works traverse, in Dyala Hamzah’s words, “the passage from local patriotism (wataniyya) to nationalism (qawmiyya), and from Islamic historiography to the modern discipline of history.”

Abstracts and titles of papers here. 


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