Palestinian Political Prisoners
Identity and community
Routledge – 2008 – 232 pages
Since the occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in 1967, more than a quarter of the Palestinians have been imprisoned by Israel on political grounds.
This is the first major study that examines the community of Palestinian political prisoners in the Israeli prison system. Esmail Nashif explicates the processes that transformed this colonial system into a Palestinian generative site for constructing national, social, and cultural identities.
Based on ethnographic, archival, and textual data, the book explores the material conditions of the prison, the education system, organizational structure, and the intellectual and aesthetic dimensions of the community’s building processes. Like other political prisoners in the late colonial era, in the Arab World, and South Africa, the Palestinian prisoners over-invested in meaning production and its related techniques of reading, writing and interpretation in order to regain their historical agency. This community came to be one of the major sites of the Palestinian national movement, and as such reshaped the realities of the Palestine/Israel conflict at many levels that challenged both the Palestinian national movement and the Israeli authorities.
Theoretically grounded, well-written and illuminating, this book covers a field which is not very recurrent in the academic works and is certain to advance Palestinian scholarship substantially.
1. Introduction: Slippery Position(s), Unsettled Setting(s) 1.1 The Position(s) 1.2 The Research 1.3 The Community 1.4 The Book 1.5 Notes on Gender language and Politics 2. Claiming the Colonial 2.1 History of the Conflict 2.2 The War of June 1967: Recognizing Colonialism in Palestine 2.2.1 From social disorientation to mass mobilization 2.2.2 PLO, Fateh, and PFLP 2.2.3 Society, direct military rule, and resistance Conclusion 3. Building the Community: The Body, the Material Conditions, and the Communication Networks 3.1 Introduction 3.2 The History as Told and Written 3.2.1 The material conditions and the powers of draining 3.2.2 The cabsulih: Contested spaces/bodies of colonial knowledge/power 3.2.3 The subversion of the written body 3.3 The Body of the Community 3.3.1 The sign of the body 3.4 Conclusion 4. Structures of a Revolutionary Pedagogy: Instituting Signification 4.1 Introduction 4.1.1 Some theoretical contetxualizations 4.2 Writing the History of the Prison 4.2.1 Hasan Abdallah 4.2.2 History as dislocated prohibitions 4.3 Dissecting the Practices from the Arrested Social Body 4.4 Some conclusing remarks 5. The Textual Formation of Subjects: Interrogation as a Rite of Passage 5.1 Introduction 5.2 A Manual for the Novice 5.2.1 The book 5.2.2 The cover 5.2.3 Prefacing 5.2.4 The text 5.2.5 The theory of interrogation 5.2.6 The techniques of interrogation 5.3 Tracing the Discursive Formations 5.4 Constructing decontamination textually 5.5 Conclusion 6. The Hidden Intellectual: Lecturing Political Captivity 6.1 Introduction 6.2 Lecturing Captivity: Agency, Self, and Linguistic Activities 6.2.1 The language of the self 6.3 Textual Strategies and Structures: The Architecture of the Lecture 6.3.1 Themes 6.3.2 Structured narrative: moments of a continuum 6.3.3 Linguistic yearning for the alternative 6.4 The Intellectual Colonial Junctures of Palestine: The Unbearable Lightness of Resolutions 6.5 Conclusion 7. The Three Domains: The Aesthetic Representing and Forming of the National 7.1 Introduction 7.2 The Context of Novelizing the Hidden 7.2.1 The novel of the nation 7.3 Tracing the Threads of the Novelistic Practices 7.3.1 The plot 7.3.2 Delimiting the signifying aesthetic: the body of the novel, the body of the world 7.3.3 Novelizing the colonial as isolated events 7.3.4 The limited problematic protagonist 7.4 The Possibilities of World Vision(s) 7.5 Conclusion 8. Conclusion Notes Bibliography
Esmail Nashif is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Bir Zeit University. His main research interests concern language, ideology, and aesthetics. He has published many articles on the Palestinian and Israeli cultures both in English and Arabic.