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Nation Constellation: Novel Imaginings of Palestinian Community

With the Palestinian flag now waving over the UN buildings in New York and Geneva, the question of just what constitutes a Palestinian national community seems ever more prescient. Though Palestinian officials are now fighting to take part in an internationalist system with membership defined through belonging to a nation-state, realities of Palestinian community are far from those that describe the nation as it emerged from Europe's Westphalian model.

This project takes a step back from politics, and dives into the limits, confines, and possibilities of the imagination. It takes as its starting point Benedict Anderson's description of the novel as a genre that represents a "precise analogue" of the nation(-state), and looks to contemporary Palestinian works, asking: by what mechanisms is the nation being imagined? Without a single linear history, or bounded political space --said to be the backbone of the European nation and its novels--an alternative model for the nation emerges.

A reading of Ibrahim Nasrallah's (b. 1954, Wihdat, Amman) recent works reveals the nation not as a bounded and linear concept, but as a constellation of inter-linked spaces, times, and structures of power that at once challenge the singular authority of the nation-state system as a political construct, as well as the basis for imagining a Palestinian national community.

Dr Nora Parr is currently a Research Fellow with CBRL, she has recently finished her PhD thesis at SOAS, University of London, where she taught on Modern Palestinian as well as Arabic Literature. She founded the Palestine Research Seminars at SOAS, and worked as the Managing Editor for the journal of Middle Eastern Literatures.