Dilemmas of Attachment

Identity and Belonging among Palestinian Christians


This book offers an ethnographic account of contemporary Christian Palestinian lives in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

Through individual life stories, Bård Kårtveit shows how Christians in the District of Bethlehem strive to live meaningful lives. Lives which are shaped by Christian-Muslim relations within the national community, the impact of Israeli presence in the Palestinian Territories, migration and homeland-diaspora relationships, and which are heavily influenced by changes in their local community and traditional family structures.

By situating these stories in the changing political contexts of Palestine, from late Ottoman to Israeli/Palestinian Authority rule, the author engages with these general processes of patriarchal resistance to social change; the role of minorities in nation-building processes; the impact of Western interventions in the region; the rise of political Islam; and the impact of emigration in the Arab World.
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Biographical Note

Bård Helge Kårtveit, Ph.D.(2010), University of Oslo, is a Post Doctoral Researcher at The Department of Cultural Studies and Oriental Languages. He has published several articles in Palestine, with a special focus on migration and on Christian-Muslim relations among Palestinians.

Review Quotes

“Kårtveit succeeds admirably in integrating the historical, political, and religious processes since Ottoman times. Well researched, this is a required read for anthropologists and Middle East scholars.”
L.D. Loeb in CHOICE July 2015.

“The author is commendably attentive to the nuances of individual stories and deftly links these to the wider context of a society subject to hostile occupation as well as to internal tensions between social change and the assertion of tradition as a defense against that change and the occupation.”
Glenn Bowman in Journal of Palestine Studies 175, volume XLIV, Number 3 (Spring 2015), 63-64.

“Kårtveits bok er betimelig i en tid da fremveksten av islamistiske bevegelser gjør at kristne og andre religiøse minoriteter i Midtøsten opplever økt press og usikkerhet. Boken er essensiell lesning for alle som er interessert i den arabisk-israelske konflikten generelt og minoriteter og migrasjon i Midtøsten spesielt.”
Cathrine Thorleifsson in Norsk antropologisk tidsskrift / Norwegian Journal of Anthropology 03-04/2015, p. 310-311.

Table of contents

Introduction: Palestinian Christians in the West Bank
Ch. 1: Bethlehem between tradition and modernity
Ch. 2: Christian-Muslim relations: land, law and family protection
Ch. 3: National identity, attachments and solidarity
Ch. 4: The Israeli occupation: a politics of paralysis
Ch. 5: Bethlehem emigration and diaspora relations
Conclusion and epilogue


All interested in the Arab-Israeli conflict. Academics interested in minorities and migration in the Middle East. Political and religious groups concerned with Palestine and Christianity in the Middle East.