Memories of Revolt: The 1936-1939 Rebellion and the Palestinian National Past / Edition 1

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In 1936, the Palestinians rose against British rule. Sixty years later, this revolt has been co-opted as a symbol of resistance for both Palestinian and Israeli nationalists - but with very different meaning for the two groups. In this book, Ted Swedenburg analyzes individual and collective memories of the rebellion for what they disclose about the shaping of historical consciousness. His work shows how, through memory, the events of the past come to serve the politics of today. Swedenburg interviewed numerous veterans of the revolt for their recollections. He checks these memories against popular and scholarly accounts of the rebellion to reveal the self-deceptions, contradictions, and diffuse interests involved in the process of remembering a historic event. The result is a richly textured portrayal of memory as a "common sense," a complex rendering of the revolt of the 1930s in its relation to antagonistic Israeli memory, Palestinian nationalism, popular traditions, and the Palestinian struggle in the international arena.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“This wonderful monograph treats a subject that resonates with anyone who studies the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and particularly Palestinian nationalism: that how Palestinian history is remembered and constructed is as meaningful to our understanding of the current struggle as arriving as some sort of ‘complete empirical understanding’ of its history. Swedenburg . . . studies how a major anti-colonial insurrection, the 1936–38 strike and revolt in Palestine [against the British], is remembered in Palestinian nationalist historiography, western and Israeli ‘official’ historical discourse, and Palestinian popular memory. Using primarily oral history interviews, supplemented by archival material and national monuments, he presents multiple, complex, contradictory, and alternative interpretations of historical events. . . . The book is thematically divided into explorations of Palestinian nationalist symbols, stereotypes, and myths; Israeli national monuments that simultaneously act as historical ‘injunctions against forgetting’ Jewish history and efforts to ‘marginalize, vilify, and obliterate’ the Arab history of Palestine; Palestine subaltern memories as resistance to official narratives, including unpopular and controversial recollections of collaboration and assassination; and finally, how the recodification and revival of memories of the revolt informed the Palestinian intifada that erupted in 1987.” —MESA Bulletin
Swedenburg (anthropology, American U., Cairo) contributes to an understanding of present Palestinian ideology with this history of the 1936 revolt against the British. He interviews veterans, and checks oral accounts against extensive academic research to construct a thesis of historical memory as symbolic idealization, finding that the discrepancies in historical accuracy help to feed Palestinian nationalism, tradition, and antagonism toward the Israelis. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781557287632
  • Publisher: University of Arkansas Press
  • Publication date: 7/28/2003
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 259
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Ted Swedenburg is an associate professor of anthropology at the University of Arkansas. With Smadar Lavie, he is the co-editor of Displacement, Diaspora, and Geographies of Identity (Duke, 1996).

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Memories of Revolt
1 Popular Memory and the Palestinian National Past 1
2 Scenes of Erasure 38
3 Popular Nationalism 76
4 Memory as Resistance 107
5 (Un)popular Memories: Accommodation and Collaboration 138
6 Memory Recoded: Intifada/Thawra 171
Epilogue: Fabulous Images 202
Afterword 211
Notes 217
Bibliography 241
Index 259
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