Biography, Life History and Orality

A Naqab Bedouin Woman’s Narrative of Displacement, Expulsion and Escape in Historic Southern Palestine, 1930–1970

in Hawwa
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The paper traces the ordinary—yet extraordinary—life story of a Bedouin woman, Amneh, in historic Southern Palestine from the 1930s to the 1970s. Amneh’s oral narratives and memories combine the personal and the political, drawing a picture of the lives that the often forgotten Palestinian Bedouin population of the South lived before, during and after the Nakba, the Palestinian Catastrophe of 1948. Her counter-narrative challenges and complicates the hegemonic settler-colonial, ethno-nationalist, elite and male-dominated historiography of the region, and confirms her as an historical actor who finds her ways through difficult social, political, economic and cultural constraints. Although unique, her story is not exceptional, nor is it representative of ‘Bedouin women of the Naqab’. Rather, it offers a lens through which the much more intricate and messy historical realities in the Naqab can be unfolded. As such, Amneh’s biography, as told by her, is also telling of the wider social and political dynamics, relations and events in the region at the time.


Journal of Women of the Middle East and the Islamic World



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See, among others, the works by Marx (1967), Falah (1985, 1989) and Abu Sitta (2009) for details on Israeli sedentarization policies in the Naqab.


See Amara (2013, 2016), Nsasra (2016) or Abu Sitta (2009) for details on Bedouin agriculture and landownership in the Ottoman and British era.


Bunton (2007) gives a comprehensive and in-depth account of colonial land policies in Palestine. See also the articles by Amara (2013) and Abu Sitta (2009) who provide detailed information on both the Ottoman and British land administration in Southern Palestine, including their respective tax systems.


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