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'Events Are Continuous': 'Cast Lead' as Nakba Revisited

Even in the context of what Edward Said once called the Palestinian 'national inferno,' the 22-day war on the Gaza Strip in 2008-09 that Israel dubbed 'Cast Lead' produced arguably the most acute distillation of Palestinian existential vulnerability, collective and individual, since the Palestinian nakba (catastrophe, of dispossession in 1948.) This paper examines particular difficulties in Gazan narration of the war as a discrete event.


Partly based on recent research in Gaza around the second anniversary of the war, it examines how this most recent Palestinian experience of absolute withholding of agency, political or individual, can and has been integrated (or otherwise) into Gazan narratives of Palestinian self and nation - and whether the two are in any sense separable in Palestinian context.

Taking its cue from Gazan reaction to the cartoonist Joe Sacco's research, in the midst of the second intifada, on Israeli massacres in Gaza in 1956 - 'events are continuous,' he is told, to explain difficulty in isolating 1956 from the present, and from the nakba understood as an ongoing whole - the paper asks how, how far, and for whom, 'Cast Lead' constitutes a caesura or otherwise in Palestinian narrative; and why so overwhelming an event might nonetheless be constitutively unsuited to any conventional narration as trauma, rather than, say, some version of the sublime.


Thomas JW Hill, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Committee on Global Thought and CPS Affiliate.

7 April 2011, 12:15 PM
Room 208, Knox Hall
606 West 122nd Street
Columbia University