Present Absentees: Internal Refugeeism As Location and Identity in the Second and Third Generations of Palestinian Women Citizens of Israel

Thursday, July 17, 2014: 6:30 PM
Room: Booth 60
Oral Presentation
Hanna HERZOG , Sociology, Tel Aviv University, Israel
I explore the emergence and significance of the identity of “internal refugees:” the identity of Palestinian citizens of Israel who were expelled from their localities in 1948 and, though remaining within the state of Israel’s borders, were denied the right to return there, and were forced to reside in other places. The analysis is based on 15 biographical narratives of women who are second and third generations of internal refugees who were born in the host localities.

The theoretical and empirical claim is that refugeeism as location and as identity is a liminal arena that both enables an examination of women’s experience and offers another viewpoint for understanding Jewish and Palestinian societies as well as women’s experiences.  My argument is twofold: first, women's multi-faceted marginal location within both Jewish society and their own society enables them to challenge both societies.

Second, internal refugee status for the second and third generations of Palestinian society in Israel, has become a category of identity alongside national, ethnic, religious and gendered categories. It is an identity category through which existential experiences are interpreted, and a collective, familial and personal history is constituted. Like national, ethnic, and gendered identity, this category is also subject to constant negotiations and contestation over its boundaries and meaning, but is unique in its location. From the woman refugee’s position somewhere/nowhere, women are able to develop a strong political critique towards their own society (Palestinian within Israel, in the Occupied Territories, in the Diaspora) and toward Jewish society.