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Temps et espaces en Palestine

Roger Heacock


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1It was during the height of the second Palestinian uprising – the al-Aqsa intifada– that Henry Laurens asked me if we at Birzeit University could join him, Nadine Picaudou and Muhammad Ali Khalidi in a research project regarding Palestinian memory, history and identity, to be carried out over several years between France, Palestine and Lebanon. This book, along with the series of scholarly meetings in Beirut, Paris and Birzeit, an already existing first publication and a third one yet to be produced, is the result of this happy and courageous initiative.

2The fact that it is based on the workshop held at Birzeit in May, 2006, is a tribute to the participants, because it thus became possible, despite the unstable field, for numerous Palestinians from the inside, researchers and members of the interested public, to contribute to the exchange of ideas regarding their past and becoming, thus adding to their usual role of actors that, too often marginal, of interpreters of their own history. That the meeting took place at a time when the democratic transition, a result of so much struggle, was still in full swing, not having yet been stifled, was palpable in the discussions, and is palpable here. The edifice which has ensued owes its title, “Times and Spaces in Palestine: The Flows and Resistances of Identity,” to the superimposing of individual contributions for which the subject, Palestine, is the result, and not the immutable premise, of empirical research which is likewise a Proustian Search.

3We are dealing with a trilingual work (the texts in Arabic having been translated) produced by a group of researchers active on three continents and coming from a variety of origins (albeit with a majority of Palestinian contributors). This testifies to the diversity of approaches, the real hybridity of a volume that not only stems from a theory of praxis (which is in essence its subject) but also a practice of theory (through its inspiration, its production, and its conclusions).

4In this regard, the input of numerous persons has been essential, and I would particularly like to thank Majdi Malki and Einas Khayyat of the Abu-Lughod Institute at Birzeit, Youssef Courbage of Beirut and Paris, Franck Mermier, Nadine Méouchy, Laetitia Démarais and Amira Zakher, of Beirut, Alexis Wick of New York and, once again, Nadine Picaudou and Henry Laurens. Without their simultaneously intellectual, administrative and technical contribution (all of these people’s efforts were multifaceted) this volume would not have seen the light of day and, along with the translators and the other authors, they have produced a collective piece of research, analysis, reflection and writing, whose quality and value are truly exceptional.

© Presses de l’Ifpo, 2008

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