Palestinian Women in Haifa – Resistance As Biographical Work

Wednesday, 13 July 2016: 15:15
Location: Seminarraum Geschichte 1 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Nicole WITTE, University of Goettingen - Center of Methods in Social Sciences, Germany
In my talk I’ll deal with the (collective) constructions of belonging of Palestinian Women in Haifa, Israel. From 2010 to 2014 I conducted narrative biographical interviews with these women in the scope of a joint research project funded by the GRF.

To label them as Palestinian women is due to the ongoing social construction of collective belongings and their fluid interrelations but also to the likewise socially constructed perceptions of the self and the others which are subject to a hegemonic (‚glocal‘) discursive field that demands to position oneself as ‘Palestinian’. In my paper I want to focus on the adoption or rather construction of these belongings and images by the women, which are closely connected to (violent) resistance against Israel.

The women I interviewed have difficulties to meet the discursive demands of being Palestinian from several reasons in comparison to Palestinians living outside Israel, e.g. in the West Bank. Important elements of ‘Palestinianess’ are suffering from and (violent) resistance against Israel in the sense of the hegemonic discourse. The structural violence in the state of Israel the women suffer from (institutional racism) does not ‘matter’ as much as suffering from occupation. Moreover the violent resistance against Israel (in terms of ‘throwing stones’) ‘is’ adolescent (and) male.

Therefore, the women don’t perceive their self definitions and definitions by others as Palestinian as ‘natural’ or unquestioned. Throughout the courses of their lives they have ‘learned’ rather than ‘experienced’ these constructions. On the other hand other belongings (e.g. gender or religion) are always entangled with ‘being’ Palestinian. The auto-biographers are not just ‘women’ but ‘Palestinian women’; their involvement in political action or (violent) resistance against Israel therefore serves a political, as well as the biographical aim to strengthen and maintain their collective belongings.