New York: Columbia University Press, 2016

One hundred thousand Palestinians fled to Syria after being expelled from Palestine upon the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948. Integrating into Syrian society over time, their experience stands in stark contrast to the plight of Palestinian refugees in other Arab countries, leading to different ways through which to understand the 1948 Nakba, or catastrophe, in their popular memory.

Conducting interviews with first-, second-, and third-generation members of Syria’s Palestinian community, Anaheed Al-Hardan follows the evolution of the Nakba – the central signifier of the Palestinian refugee past and present – in Arab intellectual discourses, Syria’s Palestinian politics, and the community’s memorialization. Al-Hardan’s sophisticated research sheds light on the enduring relevance of the Nakba among the communities it helped create, while challenging the nationalist and patriotic idea that memories of the Nakba are static and universally shared among Palestinians. Her study also critically tracks the Nakba’s changing meaning in light of Syria’s twenty-first-century civil war.

Columbia University Press

272pp., ISBN 978-0231176361
Excerpt (pdf, 311kB)

Table of Contents

Note on Transliteration and Names
Preface and Acknowledgments
Introduction: The Catastrophe of 1948, the Catastrophes of Today
1. The Nakba in Arab Thought
2. The Palestinian Refugee Community in Syria
3. The Right of Return Movement and Memories for the Return
4. Narrating Palestine, Transmitting Its Loss
5. The Guardians’ Communities and Memories of Catastrophes
6. Second- and Third-Generation Postmemories of Palestine and Narratives on Nakba Memory
Conclusion: The Catastrophes of Today, the Catastrophe of 1948