Memories of Revolt
The Palestinian past isnt dead. It isnt even past.
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 193638 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.
[Swedenburgs] challenge to the polar oppositions and simplistic dichotomies that underpin most Palestinian nationalist accounts of the revolt is particularly important and enlightening. . . . Admirable nuance. . . . A pioneering study of the politics of Palestinian national consciousness, Memories of Revolt is essential reading for students of Palestinian history and politics; but it also can, and should, be read by anyone interested in how historical memory is produced, transformed, and struggled over, regardless of the region or period concerned.
Journal of Palestine Studies
A complexly multi-sited ethnography. . . . A remarkably successful attempt to uncover the field of contested histories, forgotten histories, and even future histories of the continuing struggle for Palestinian self-determination.
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).