Scenes from Daily Life: The View from Nablus

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VOL. 34


No. 1
P. 37
Reports from Nablus
Scenes from Daily Life: The View from Nablus

The picture of everyday life in besieged Nablus that emerges from this essay is one of simultaneous fragmentation and social cohesion: fragmentation in the class and generational tensions, factional power struggles, estrangement between townsmen and camp dwellers; social cohesion in the enduring family and solidarity networks, well-organized grassroots committees, and the unifying impact of Israeli military pressures. While shedding light on the radical cultural, demographic, and structural transformations underway, this closely observed personal narrative also conveys the sense of imprisonment that characterizes this virtually sealed off town subjected to individual and collective punishments, from targeted assassinations to selective curfews and the intentional destruction of infrastructure and architectural patrimony.

Beshara Doumani teaches history of the modern Middle East at the University of California, Berkeley, and is the author of, among other things, Rediscovering Palestine: Merchants and Peasants in Jabal Nablus, 1700-1900 (1995). He has spent long periods of time in Nablus doing research and was most recently there in the summer of 2004. He would like to thank Anan Ateereh for her generosity, trust, and insights.