What It Means to be Palestinian is a narrative of narratives, a collection of personal stories, remembered feelings and reconstructed experiences by different Palestinians whose lives were changed and shaped by history. It conveys these stories within a chronological order that corresponds to particular phases of the Palestinian national struggle, and pulls them into acomposite autobiography of Palestine as a landscape and as a people. The phases begin with the 1936 revolt against British rule in Palestine and end in 1993, when the Oslo peace agreement was signed between Israel and the PLO, changing the nature and form of the national struggle. This composite autobiography is based on in-depth interviews and conversations with a diverse group of Palestinians, male and female, old and young, rich and poor, religious and secular, in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Israel and the Occupied Territories. The conversations are presented asremembered personal narratives and as ‘social’ histories that in their simplicity, partiality and complexity provide a thick and intimate account of what it means to be Palestinian in the twenty-first century. In telling this story, Dina Matar provides a fresh approach to addressing and understanding one of the most problematic and protracted conflicts in recent times, while creating a ‘people’s history’ that puts the ‘Palestinian’ at the centre of the political, social and historical dynamics of Palestinian nationhood, and as central to the political or historical analysis.
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