Recovered Histories and Contested Identities

Recovered Histories and Contested Identities : Jordan, Israel, and Palestine

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Recovered Histories and Contested Identities discusses three case studies: Jordan, Israel, and Palestine. These three cases have intertwined demography, geography, and history. The majority of the population in Jordan has Palestinian roots, and in Israel 20% of the population are Palestinians. More importantly, both Palestinians and Jews claim Palestine to be their ancestral homeland. In the last several decades, nationhood and citizenship in these three case studies have been the driving force for intra-group and inter-group conflict. In this study, the focus is on two interrelated forms of political identity, myth of origins and citizenship. Origins are the building blocks in the retrospective historical process of national identity formation. They help collectives construct their sense of "imagined community" and link current generations of co-nationals to their founding fathers in their mythical ancient homeland. Myth of origins creates an exclusive relationship between people, homeland, and ancestors. It forms the basis upon which claims for self-determination and statehood rely. In the Palestinian and the Israeli case, myth of origins and claiming the past is central to each collective's sense of nationhood and political rights in Palestine. Consequently, myth of origins becomes the source of national conflict between these two entities. In addition, the study discusses citizenship as a modern form of political identity, directly related to the emergence of the nation-state system in modern history. Citizenship assumes the supremacy of universal rights of citizens over primordial national or other particular forms of affiliation (e.g. race, religion, gender, ethnicity, etc.). In the case studies citizenship is often conflated with nationality. This results in intra-ethnic conflicts in both Jordan and Israel. In addition, Palestinians in the Occupied Territories have yet to achieve statehood for citizenship to be meaningful. The study examines whether citizenship and nationality converge and whether one national collective's claims for self-determination overwrite another ethnic/national group's demands for universal citizens' rights in the same polity. The data analyzed in these case studies are school history and civic studies textbooks currently used in public schools in Jordan, Israel, and the Palestinian Authority.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 242 pages
  • 157.48 x 231.14 x 22.86mm | 566.99g
  • Lexington Books
  • Lanham, MD, United States
  • English
  • New.
  • 0739146602
  • 9780739146606

Review quote

Is national identity the same as citizenship? Riad Nasser's latest book picks this question apart through a close reading of history and civics textbooks in Jordan, Israel, and the Palestinian territories. He deftly shows how all three government-approved curricula selectively employ history to instill a sense of national pride and connection to the land that is applicable to some students but not to others. These exclusive identities, particularly in Israel, then become a rationale for unequal citizenship rights and unequal distribution of state benefits. The book is a must-read for anyone wishing to understand the role of public education in generating national identities in multi-ethnic states, and the potential of textbooks to serve political agendas. -- Eleanor Doumato, author of Teaching Islam: Religion and Textbooks in the Middle East [Lynn Rienner, 2006] This book breaks new ground by studying the relationship between the Palestinians and the rest of the Arab/Islamic world. It scrutinizes in a comparative and unprecedented manner the discourses of national identity devised by the various actors and their use and manipulation of collective memory. Via its analysis of the historical narratives of Jordan, Israel, and the Palestinian Authority, the strategies used to construct national identity in school curricula, the book sheds light on the process by which a collective imagines its origins and creates a coherent continuity between the present generation of co-nationals and their ancestry. This book is a must-read for all scholars interested in Middle East studies, education policy, textbooks and history. -- Samira Alayan, Georg Eckert Institute for International Textbook Research, Germany Riad Nasser's book sets a standard for future studies on textbooks and identity construction in the Middle East. It is one of the few comparative studies that does not accuse just one side of the Israeli-Arab/Palestinian conflict. It offers an excellent introduction into identity construction through history and civic education in general, and provides rich and detailed information about the textbooks currently in use in the three countries. Nasser uses his scientific instruments in a most superior manner keeping an analytical, equidistant view on his subject of inquiry. He combines a theoretical approach anchored in a clear methodology and a thorough, in-depth analysis with a well-founded assessment speaking out clearly that all sides have to reconstruct their textbooks in order to shift from ethnonationalism towards a notion of political identity that is based on the concept of citizenship. -- Falk Pingel, Associate Research Fellow of the Georg Eckert Institute for International Textbook Research, Germanyshow more

About Riad M. Nasser

Riad Nasser is a professor of sociology in the Department of Social Sciences and History at Fairleigh Dickinson University. He specializes in the study of nationalism, ethnicity, and theories of citizenship in the global age. He has published in Nationalism and Ethnic Politics, Journal for Curriculum Studies, and is author of Palestinian Identity in Jordan and Israel: The Necessary 'Other' in the Making of a Nation (New York: Routledge, 2005). He is a leading scholar in textbook analysis in Middle East school systems.show more

Table of contents

Part 1: Identity from a Theoretical and Historical Perspective Chapter 1. Modernity and the Question of Identity Chapter 2. Arab and Jewish National Ideologies Part 2: Recovered Histories and Myth of Origins Chapter 3. The Jewish Myth of Origin Chapter 4. The Palestinian Myth of Origin Chapter 5. Rulers and Ruled: Myth of Origin in Jordan Part 3: Between Nation and Citizenship Chapter 6. Citizenship in Israel, Jordan, and Palestine Chapter 7. Conclusionsshow more