Beyond the land of Palestine: deserts, shores, seas

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How the land of Palestine is imagined goes to the heart of Palestinian identity, making the process a significant and fraught endeavor. However, while the centrality of land to the imagined geography of Palestine has long been acknowledged, less attention has been paid to Palestine’s sea. This paper therefore explores how the canonical Palestinian authors, Ghassan Kanafani and Jabra Ibrahim Jabra represent–or omit–the sea in their works. I argue that, as members of the Nakba generation, for these two authors the sea signifies a one-way passage into exile, thus casting Palestine’s shores and sea as abject spaces, severed from the imagined geography of homeland, producing what I term “terracentric” discourses of Palestinian homeland. The paper’s conclusion turns its attention to contemporary Palestinian cultural production to address the ways subsequent generations of Palestinians have begun to reconceptualize the relationship between the land and sea of Palestine.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)93-110
Number of pages18
JournalMiddle Eastern Literatures
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

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  • Ghassan Kanafani
  • Jabra Ibrahim Jabra
  • Palestinian literature
  • exile
  • space


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