Palestinian Identity


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  • ISBN: 0231105150

Although the Oslo agreements provided worldwide acknowledgment of Palestinian identity, it remains subject to question at all international borders where, in the words of Palestinian-American Prof. Rashid Khalidi, a Palestinian is suspect almost by definition. In his impressive work Palestinian Identity, Dr. Khalidi, professor of history at the University of Chicago and director of its Center for International Studies, examines the evolution of Palestinian identity and modern Palestinian nationalism.

In 309 pages, Khalidi assesses the construction of the Palestinian national identity, its historical phases, and the obstacles it faced. Divided into eight well-documented chapters, Palestinian Identity, winner of the 1997 Albert Hourani Book Award of the Middle East Studies Association,opens with Contrasting Narratives of Palestinian Identity, a chapter that explores different versions of the history of Palestine. A major reason for the lack of previous scholarship on the construction of identity in Palestine is the conjunction there of many contradictory views of self and of history.

Palestinian Identity also provides a thoughtful analysis of cultural life and identity in late Ottoman Palestine, with special concentration on Jerusalem. This is the city that was most affected by the change in the final half-century of Ottoman rule from Islamic systems of justice and education to Western-based forms. Dr. Khalidi presents detailed looks into the lives of two individuals from the late Ottoman era, Yusuf Diya' al-Khalidi and Ruhi al-Khalidi, to illustrate the political and ideological transitions occurring at the end of that period. According to the author, a distinctive characteristic of both of these men is that they found no contradiction between a firm commitment to Ottomanism and taking pride in their Arab heritage