Description of the exhibit:
This exhibit can be seen at:
Gutman Library, Harvard University
6 Appian Way
Opening Reception Thursday March 2, 6-8
Exhibit runs through March 28, 2017
Palestinians have received few opportunities to represent themselves in their diversity. Often ignored or misrepresented, Palestinians have faced suspicion and discrimination and have been given little political or cultural space for directly engaging broader audiences.
These circumstances were the basis for an exhibit that was mounted at the Multicultural Arts Center in Cambridge, from December 5, 2013 – January 24, 2014. Our goal was to bring forward some of the voices and faces of the Cambridge-connected Palestinian community. Cambridge is a city known for its progressive attitudes, diversity of communities, and as a destination for immigrant groups. It has become home to Palestinians as well as supporters, creating the interest and opening for this exhibition.
Working in collaboration with Palestinian groups and solidarity efforts, we contacted Palestinians and Palestinian-Americans living, working or studying in Cambridge, and interviewed them concerning the formation of their identities based upon personal experience, that of their families and the complex legacy of their Palestinian background.
The CBPPP committee selected 21 individuals of varying backgrounds spanning religion, class, age, gender and sexual orientation. Two married couples are represented along with three sets of parents and children. One of the families requested not to be identified fearing possible discrimination within the US, and therefore has been labeled “Family X.” Participants include people born in the United States, in the Occupied Territories, the state of Israel, Palestine, and other Middle Eastern Countries, revealing the complexity of the Palestinian diasporic experience. Depending on the year and place of their birth, or specific characteristics of their Palestinian origins, some grew up originally identifying as Syrian, Lebanese or Jordanian.
More than 350 villages in historic Palestine were razed or depopulated during the formation of the state of Israel in 1948. Interviewees trace their history to these villages, and towns and cities in Palestine, some with additional origins in other parts of the Middle East and even Latin America. The forced displacements of Palestinians in 1948, 1967, and to this day have created the largest refugee population in the world, currently numbering over 5 million. Many of the interviewees share the historic experience of multiple involuntary relocations resulting in identifications as refugees, immigrants, residents, or citizens of the world. All the interviewees have found their way to Cambridge — for work, education, or family. For some it has become home.
Like all other immigrant and indigenous communities, being Palestinian means language, family, food, culture and traditions. However, as a people with no formal state and an occupied homeland, Palestinians also share a unique connection to the idea of justice. For all, the ongoing Israeli occupation with its limits on access and movement, segregated by-pass roads, demolition of homes and communities, confiscation of water, massive incarceration, uprooting of olive trees, and seizing of land has a profound impact on their current relationship with Palestine.
History of the Palestinian Diaspora
We have on this earth what makes life worth living:
The scent of bread at dawn
A woman’s opinion of men
The beginnings of love
Moss on a stone
Mothers standing on the thinness of a flute’s sigh And the invaders’ fear of memories.
We have on this earth what makes life worth living: The waning days of September
A woman leaving her forties in full blossom
The hour of sunlight in prison
A cloud resembling a swarm of creatures
The people’s applause for those who face their end with a smile And the tyrants’ fear of songs.
We have on this earth what makes life worth living: On this earth, the lady of earth
The mother of all beginnings
The mother of all endings
She was called Palestine
She came to be called Palestine O lady, because you are my lady
I am worthy of life.
— Mahmoud Darwish