Palestinian Autobiographical Memory Regarding the 1948 Palestinian Exodus
Political Psychology, 32 (2), 271-295, 2012
25 Pages Posted: 3 Feb 2013 Last revised: 13 Feb 2017
Date Written: 2012
Background: Collective memory of intractable conflict is an important sociopsychological phenomenon which influences the psychological and behavioral reactions of each party to the conflict. This memory is composed of two kinds of memories: autobiographical memory — the memory of the people who experienced the given events directly — and indirect-collective memory — the memory of the people who learned about the given events second hand, via books, etc.
Purpose: This study explores the characteristics of Palestinian autobiographical memory with respect to the causes of the 1948 Palestinian exodus and how it relates to other Palestinian memories of that exodus (official, historical/academic, and indirect-collective). From these empirical findings, theoretical insights are concluded.
Method: This is done by analyzing the content of four oral history projects of 1948 Palestinians refugees (in total, 131 interviewees from 38 localities). In addition, the content of these projects is compared to the accounts of documented Israeli history (using the research of Israeli historian Benny Morris). Studies of the other Palestinian memories are also used.
Findings: The findings reveal that the Palestinian autobiographical memory is not a typical memory of conflict (e.g., with relatively low focus on the expulsion cause for the exodus). It is also compatible to a large degree with documented Israeli history. However, it is very different from other Palestinian memories of the exodus (official, historical/academic, and indirect-collective), which focus almost exclusively on the expulsion cause. Other empirical findings and their explanations are discussed. The findings have mostly theoretical implications regarding various kinds of memories of conflicts (and memories in general), as well as some methodological implications with regard to the usage of oral history.
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Keywords: Collective memory, autobiographical memory, 1948 War, Nakba, Palestinian refugee problem
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