PALESTINIANS IN SYRIA - NAKBA MEMORIES OF SHATTERED COMMUNITIES
A Special Book Talk with Anaheed Al-Hardan, Assistant professor of sociology at the American University of Beirut. With Introduction by Rashid Khalidi
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.