An Oral History of the Palestinian Nakba

Edited by Nahla Abdo and Nur Masalha


A definitive study of the Palestinian Nakba, interweaving oral testimony from 1948 and the present day to reveal an ongoing process aimed at the erasure of Palestinian history and memory.

In 2018, Palestinians mark the 70th anniversary of the Nakba, when over 750,000 people were uprooted and forced to flee their homes in the early days of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Even today, the bitterness and trauma of the Nakba remains raw, and it has become the pivotal event both in the shaping of Palestinian identity and in galvanising the resistance to occupation.

Unearthing an unparalleled body of rich oral testimony, An Oral History of the Palestinian Nakba tells the story of this epochal event through the voices of the Palestinians who lived it, uncovering remarkable new insights both into Palestinian experiences of the Nakba and into the wider dynamics of the ongoing conflict. Drawing together Palestinian accounts from 1948 with those of the present day, the book confronts the idea of the Nakba as an event consigned to the past, instead revealing it to be an ongoing process aimed at the erasure of Palestinian memory and history. In the process, each unique and wide-ranging contribution leads the way for new directions in Palestinian scholarship.

Author Bio

Nahla Abdo is professor of sociology at Carleton University, Canada. She has previously worked as a consultant on gender and women’s rights for the United Nations, the European Union, and the Palestinian Ministry for Women’s Affairs. Her previous books include Captive Revolution (2014) and Women in Israel: Gender, Race and Citizenship (Zed 2011).

Nur-eldeen (Nur) Masalha is a Palestinian historian and a member of the Centre for Palestine Studies at SOAS, University of London. He was previously a professor of religion and politics at St Mary's University, and a research fellow at the Institute for Palestine Studies in Washington D.C. His previous books include The Palestine Nakba (Zed 2012) and The Bible and Zionism (Zed 2007).

Table of Contents

  • Introduction - Nahla Abdo and Nur Masalha
  • Part I: Theorizing the Nakba and Oral History
    • 1. Decolonising Methodology, Reclaiming Memory: Palestinian Oral Histories and Memories of the Nakba - Nur Masalha
    • 2. Feminism, Indigenousness and Settler Colonialism: Oral History, Memory and the Nakba - Nahla Abdo
  • Part II: Between Epistemology and Ontology: Nakba Embodiment
    • 3. What Bodies Remember: Sensory Experience as Historical Counterpoint in the Nakba Archive - Diana Allan
    • 4. The Time of Small Returns: Affect and Resistance During the Nakba - Lena Jayyusi
  • Part III: Archiving the Nakba through Palestinian Refugee Women’s Voices
    • 5. Nakbah Silencing and the Challenge of Palestinian Oral History - Rosemary Sayigh
    • 6. Shu’fat Refugee Camp Women Authenticate an Old ‘Nakba’ and Frame Something ‘New’ while Narrating It - Laura Khoury
    • 7. Gender Representation of Oral History: Palestinian Women Narrating the Stories of their Displacement - Faiha Abdel-Hadi
  • Part IV: The Nakba and 48 Palestinians
    • 8. The Ongoing Nakba: Urban Palestinian Survival in Haifa - Himmat Zubi
    • 9. Suffourieh: A Continuous Tragedy - Amina Qablawi Nasrallah
    • 10. The Sons and Daughters of Eilaboun - Hisham Zreiq
    • 11. ‘This Is Your Father's Land’: Palestinian Bedouin Women Encounter the Nakba in the Naqab - Safa Abu-Rabi’a
  • Part V: Documenting Nakba Narratives from the Gaza Strip and the Shatat
    • 12. The Young Do Not Forget - Mona Al-Farra
    • 13. Gaza Remembers: Narratives of Displacement in Gaza's Oral History - Malaka Mohammad Shwaikh
    • 14. ‘Besieging the Cultural Siege’: Mapping Narratives of Nakba through Orality and Repertoires of Resistance - Chandni Desai


‘A passionate and ambitious work of politically engaged scholarship that positions itself as an actor in the fight to change the world. This is cultural activism at its best.’
Ahdaf Soueif, author of Cairo: My City, Our Revolution

'An impressive collection and a very significant contribution to the scholarly work on the oral history of the Nakba.'
Ilan Pappé, co-editor of Israel and South Africa: The Many Faces of Apartheid

‘Breathtaking in scope, its compelling essays complicate our understanding of the Nakba, rendering it both more visceral and historically profound. It is an invaluable contribution to oral history, gender studies and the broader genre of genocide studies.’
Sherna Berger Gluck, Director Emerita of the Oral History Program, California State University

‘Moving and acutely observed, this timely and necessary anthology is an indispensable addition for all readers concerned with the Israeli colonisation of Palestine.’
Ronit Lentin, author of Thinking Palestine

‘Reveals the full magnificence of Palestinian responses to Israel’s systematic post-1948 programme of memoricide. Abdo and Masalha are here establishing a new interdisciplinary field, Nakba Studies, in which Palestinians become subjects and agents in their own history.’
John Docker, University of Western Australia

‘A wide-ranging collection by leading oral historians, its moving first person narratives confirm the reparative force of listening to voices which have been silenced in the ongoing colonization of Palestine.’
Lila Abu-Lughod, Columbia University

‘A landmark intervention, this cross-disciplinary book provides innovative analytical frameworks for studying the persistent erasure of Palestine. This insightful and comprehensive work proposes alternative ways of knowing and telling, rearticulating the Nakba as an ongoing process of dispossession.’
Ella Shohat, NYU, and author of On the Arab-Jew, Palestine, and Other Displacements

'Apart from its prestige as an academic work that stays authentic to the voice of the Palestinian people, the book is also home to a simple truth…: “I am Palestinian, and I do not have another land."'
Middle East Monitor


Publication Date: 15 November 2019
324 pages

Product ISBNs: Paperback: 9781786993502
Hardback: 9781786993496
eBook ePub: 9781786993526
eBook PDF: 9781786993519
eBook Kindle: 9781786993533

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