PalREAD: After 2000 with Bashir Abu-Manneh

23 Jun 2020 - 2.00PM

Maps can be repositories of cultural memory, a way of situating ourselves in time and space, and guides to a possible future. But they can also be used to exclude, and to rewrite history to erase shared memory.

It is this idea of re-mapping that the people behind literature and history project PalREAD are seeking to address. The project launched in 2018, the brainchild of scholar Refqa Abu-Remaileh. The project, she says, “seeks to re-trace and re-gather the scattered fragments of the story of Palestinian literature”. 

PalREAD are launching a new series of globally accessible readings and lectures titled “Re-locating the Map,” hosted by series organiser Ruth Abou Rached and featuring four prominent writers and scholars of Palestinian literature, is being launched. Set to unfold across four live online events, it marks a chance for a wider public to engage with the project. 

 An X Over Your Apartment, on 23 June is by scholar Bashir Abu-Manneh and promises to map the recent past. Abu-Manneh is interested in how Palestinian writers have grappled with tracing Israel’s “war on terror,” launched in 2000.

Abu-Manneh, author of The Palestinian Novel: From 1948 to the Present, said his talk will ask: “What does it mean for an occupying power to launch wars against those it occupies in the context of the Oslo peace process?”

Palestine has seen several wars in the two decades since the 2000 Camp David Summit and, “for this talk in particular, I'm interested in the wars launched by Israel after 2000 in occupied Palestine: West Bank 2002, Gaza 2008-9, 2012, and 2014. And in the Great March of Return protests of 2018-19. 

This literature includes, Abu-Manneh said, Najwan Darwish’s collection of poems, Nothing More to Lose, translated to English by Kareem James Abu-Zaid, and Atef Abu Saif’s The Drone Eats with Me: A Gaza Diary

Najwan Darwish is very good at mapping “suffering's glow,” Abu-Manneh said, while Abu Saif gives us a picture of “the non-logic of war, how a war on civilians is impossible to predict as everyone is a potential target and nowhere is safe.”