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Occupied by Memory: The Intifada Generation and the Palestinian State of Emergency

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Occupied by Memory explores the memories of the first Palestinian intifada. Based on extensive interviews with members of the "intifada generation," those who were between 10 and 18 years old when the intifada began in 1987, the book provides a detailed look at the intifada memories of ordinary Palestinians. These personal stories are presented as part of a complex and pol Occupied by Memory explores the memories of the first Palestinian intifada. Based on extensive interviews with members of the "intifada generation," those who were between 10 and 18 years old when the intifada began in 1987, the book provides a detailed look at the intifada memories of ordinary Palestinians. These personal stories are presented as part of a complex and politically charged discursive field through which young Palestinians are invested with meaning by scholars, politicians, journalists, and other observers. What emerges from their memories is a sense of a generation caught between a past that is simultaneously traumatic, empowering, and exciting--and a future that is perpetually uncertain. In this sense, Collins argues that understanding the stories and the struggles of the intifada generation is a key to understanding the ongoing state of emergency for the Palestinian people. The book will be of interest not only to scholars of the Middle East but also to those interested in nationalism, discourse analysis, social movements, and oral history.


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Occupied by Memory explores the memories of the first Palestinian intifada. Based on extensive interviews with members of the "intifada generation," those who were between 10 and 18 years old when the intifada began in 1987, the book provides a detailed look at the intifada memories of ordinary Palestinians. These personal stories are presented as part of a complex and pol Occupied by Memory explores the memories of the first Palestinian intifada. Based on extensive interviews with members of the "intifada generation," those who were between 10 and 18 years old when the intifada began in 1987, the book provides a detailed look at the intifada memories of ordinary Palestinians. These personal stories are presented as part of a complex and politically charged discursive field through which young Palestinians are invested with meaning by scholars, politicians, journalists, and other observers. What emerges from their memories is a sense of a generation caught between a past that is simultaneously traumatic, empowering, and exciting--and a future that is perpetually uncertain. In this sense, Collins argues that understanding the stories and the struggles of the intifada generation is a key to understanding the ongoing state of emergency for the Palestinian people. The book will be of interest not only to scholars of the Middle East but also to those interested in nationalism, discourse analysis, social movements, and oral history.

16 review for Occupied by Memory: The Intifada Generation and the Palestinian State of Emergency

  1. 5 out of 5

    Drew

    I just finished reading John Collin’s Occupied by Memory: The Intifada Generation and the Palestinian State of Emergency. This study of memories of the first intifada by young Palestinians who participated in this upheaval of the late 80s and early 90s is very intriguing. It tries to divorce itself from the traditional mainstream binary portrayal of Palestinians as either terrorist or victimized refugee. Youth are never portrayed as whole economic or political beings. He discusses the “unresolve I just finished reading John Collin’s Occupied by Memory: The Intifada Generation and the Palestinian State of Emergency. This study of memories of the first intifada by young Palestinians who participated in this upheaval of the late 80s and early 90s is very intriguing. It tries to divorce itself from the traditional mainstream binary portrayal of Palestinians as either terrorist or victimized refugee. Youth are never portrayed as whole economic or political beings. He discusses the “unresolved tension between structure and agency, between victimization and empowerment, between the imprint of childhood and the impact of ‘growing up’” (Collins 2004:74). Collins contextualizes children, who so often are portrayed as sub-actors lacking in agency and purely at the will of their parents and public leadership figures. He moves beyond the passive victimization narrative of the intifada generation (jil al-intifada). These out-of-focus frames primarily serve external actors, such as human rights groups and the media. Such groups frame situations in a way to motivate their international audience instead of expressing the thoughts and agency of young activists. In sync with the discussion in my thesis of the problems of positivistic legal paradigms with respect to addressing massive political violence, Collins remarks that “when individuals speak with human rights case workers and researchers, they do so largely in response to extremely focused sets of questions rooted in a documentary model of research rather than a narrative model” (Collins 2004: 127). What is said is important, but why it is said and to whom it is spoken are almost more fundamental to gaining insight into the situation. It’s not only the media and human rights groups that do seek to manipulate the raw data, but also the Israeli government. The occupation authority denies youth agency and claims that young activists are the pawns of of their parents and the Palestinian leaders. They use their rhetoric to cut both ways, anticipating alternating defenses: parental neglect or victims of political manipulation. Among other things, the intifada provided an empowerment opportunity for youth. It gave them the voice that so many others say the voiceless do not have. We simply have to listen for it instead of talking past it. “These young narrators give us ample reason, for example, to question liberal notions of the inherent passivity of children living in situations of violent political conflict” (Collins 2004:74). Drawing on some of my past research of remembering, the intifada experience also explores issues of nostalgia. This past-looking frame can be used as a form of relief from the cognitive dissonance of hope garnered through participation in the uprising that was dashed by the post-Oslo return to normalcy. Note that by normalcy, I intentionally imply two meanings: (1) there is no uprising, and (2) the return of Israeli domination. Collins writes that the “intifada should have yielded material results, and that the results should have been distributed evenly to all those who participated, suffered, and sacrificed during that intense period of political struggle” (Collins 2004: 197). That has not happened in the mid to late 1990s and continues to be a problem as the 21st century began.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Louise

  3. 4 out of 5

    Percy

  4. 4 out of 5

    Becca

  5. 5 out of 5

    Fa2

  6. 4 out of 5

    Noura

  7. 4 out of 5

    Reem

  8. 4 out of 5

    jenny

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jaryd Kay

  10. 4 out of 5

    Leah Muskin-pierret

  11. 4 out of 5

    Hamza

  12. 5 out of 5

    Amal Zayed

  13. 4 out of 5

    Clayton

  14. 5 out of 5

    Gábor Basch

  15. 5 out of 5

    Melanie Jones

  16. 5 out of 5

    Christopher Iacovetti

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