Material mnemonics and competing narratives in Palestine-Israel

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Since 1948 the re-designation of depopulated Palestinian villages as national parks has evoked Lippet’s ‘cartography of nowhere’, as ruins and unmarked sites are subsumed in the process of material forgetting. Juxtaposing narratives and material mnemonics, this article assumes the villages of Deir Yassin, Suba, Kufr Bir’im and Iqrit as case studies to determine the extent to which memory infuses ruins with the ability to counter contemporary narratives. The article subsequently explores the use of debris in the sustenance of national memory, and questions how far ‘haunting’ the land through commemorative tours and in situ story-telling renders the ruins noeuds de mémoire, as opposed to lieux de mémoire. Finally, the transition of the ruins from sites of history to sites of activism is charted through the use of theatre and technology that draw on the past and present as forms of cultural resistance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)195-210
Number of pages16
JournalSocial Semiotics
Issue number2
Early online date31 May 2016
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2017

Bibliographical note

This work was supported by a grant from the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and Social Sciences (NIAS) and The Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland [SO053 RGB4577].


  • memory
  • space
  • commemoration
  • postmemory
  • politics
  • trauma


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