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Issue . 80
P. 57
Materializing Palestinian Memory: Objects of Home and the Everyday Eternities of Exile

Abstract: The production of oral history has had monumental implications for the resonance of Palestinian voices in intellectual and public discourse. This article endeavors to further expand its reach by outlining the methodological importance of including in Palestinian oral history projects an ethnographic engagement with the everyday – the very site in which imaginings of home are cultivated, and perhaps in some cases, abandoned. Building on ethnographic fieldwork conducted in different corners of Amman, Jordan, it posits Palestinian memory as an ever-changing practice, a practice in which the material fragments of an idealized past are woven into the times and spaces of an unhomely present. Departing from an understanding of memory as a retrievable resource, it focuses not on what is remembered but on the relationship between people and (the memories of) their things. With this, it foregrounds the unrehearsed practices of recollection that characterize the daily logistics of coping at (and away from) home. It also highlights how attending to everyday material worlds allows us to trace the social distinctions that both enable and delimit these practices of remembering. Ultimately, it suggests that the approach of materializing memory moves us beyond paradigms of event-centered history, beyond essentialized, structured, and authoritative narratives of indigeneity, and leads us toward the material textures of Palestinian exile: to the stories, to the daydreams, to the realities, and to the futures that Palestinians may wish to tell.


Keywords: oral history; historiography; ethnography; memory; home; exile; material culture; narratives; archives; Jordan.