Wednesday, July 24, 2024

The Palestine Nakba: Decolonising History, Narrating the Subaltern, Reclaiming Memory by Nur Masalha

The Palestine Nakba: Decolonising History, Narrating the Subaltern,
Reclaiming Memory (London: Zed Books, January 2012). 288 pp. Hardback.
ISBN: 978-1848139718

2012 marks the 63rd anniversary of the Nakba - the most traumatic
catastrophe that ever befell Palestinians. This book explores new ways
of remembering and commemorating the Nakba. In the context of
Palestinian oral history, it explores 'social history from below',
subaltern narratives of memory and the formation of collective
identity. Masalha argues that to write more truthfully about the Nakba
is not just to practise a professional historiography but an ethical
imperative. The struggles of ordinary refugees to recover and publicly
assert the truth about the Nakba is a vital way of protecting their
rights and keeping the hope for peace with justice alive.

This book is essential for understanding the place of the Palestine
Nakba at the heart of the Israel-Palestine conflict and the vital role
of memory in narratives of truth and reconciliation.

'As a meticulous scholar, historian and above all Palestinian, Nur
Masalha is eminently suited to write this excellent book. He has
produced a marvellous history of the Nakba which should be essential
reading for all those concerned with the origins of the conflict over
Ghada Karmi, author of 'Married to Another Man: Israel's Dilemma in

'Nur Masalha has a distinguished and deserved reputation for
scholarship on the Nakba and Palestinian refugees. Now, with his latest
book, his searching analysis of past and present makes for a powerful
combination of remembrance and resistance.'
Ben White, journalist and author of 'Israeli Apartheid: A Beginner's

'Nur Masalha's 'The Palestinian Nakba' is a tour de force examining the
process of transformation of Palestine over the last century. One
outstanding feature of this study is the systematic manner in which it
investigates the accumulated scholarship on the erasure of Palestinian
society and culture, including a critical assessment of the work of the
new historians. In what he calls 'reclaiming the memory' he goes on to
survey and build on an emergent narrative. Masalha's work is essential
and crucial for any scholar seeking this alternate narrative.'
Salim Tamari, Visiting Professor of History, Center for Contemporary
Arab Studies, Georgetown University

'This book is the most comprehensive and penetrating analysis available
of the catastrophe that befell Arab Palestine and its people in 1948,
known as the nakba. It shows how the expulsion and physical
obliteration of the material traces of a people was followed by what
Masalha calls 'memoricide': the effacement of their history, their
archives, and their place-names, and a denial that they had ever
Rashid Khalidi, Edward Said Professor of Arab Studies Department of
History, Columbia University
Table of Contents

1. Zionism and European Settler-Colonialism
2. The Memoricide of the Nakba: Zionist-Hebrew Toponymy and the
De-Arabisation of Palestine
3. Fashioning a European Landscape, Erasure and Amnesia: The Jewish
National Fund, Afforestation, and Green-washing the Nakba
4. Appropriating History: The Looting of Palestinian Records, Archives
and Library Collections (1948-2011)
5. New History, Post-Zionism, the Liberal Coloniser and Hegemonic
Narratives: A Critique of the Israeli 'New Historians'
6. Decolonising History and Narrating the Subaltern: Palestinian Oral
History, Indigenous and Gendered Memories
7. Resisting Memoricide and Reclaiming Memory: The Politics of Nakba
Commemoration among Palestinians inside Israel
Epilogue: The Continuity of Trauma

About the Author:
Nur Masalha is Professor of Religion and Politics and Director of the
Centre for Religion and History at St. Mary's University College,
London, and Professorial Research Associate, Department of History,
SOAS. He is also Editor of 'Holy Land Studies: A Multidisciplinary
Journal' (published by Edinburgh University Press).