Settler-Colonialism, Memoricide and Indigenous Toponymic Memory: The Appropriation of Palestinian Place Names by the Israeli State

Masalha, Nur (2015) Settler-Colonialism, Memoricide and Indigenous Toponymic Memory: The Appropriation of Palestinian Place Names by the Israeli State. Journal of Holy Land and Palestine Studies, 14 (1). pp. 3-57. ISSN 2054-1988

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.3366/hlps.2015.0103

Abstract

Cartography, place-naming and state-sponsored explorations were central to the modern European conquest of the earth, empire building and settler-colonisation projects. Scholars often assume that place names provide clues to the historical and cultural heritage of places and regions. This article uses social memory theory to analyse the cultural politics of place-naming in Israel. Drawing on Maurice Halbwachs’ study of the construction of social memory by the Latin Crusaders and Christian medieval pilgrims, the article shows Zionists’ toponymic strategies in Palestine, their superimposition of Biblical and Talmudic toponyms was designed to erase the indigenous Palestinian and Arabo-Islamic heritage of the land. In the pre-Nakba period Zionist toponymic schemes utilised nineteenth century Western explorations of Biblical ‘names’ and ‘places’ and appropriated Palestinian toponyms. Following the ethnic cleansing of Palestine in 1948, the Israeli state, now in control of 78 percent of the land, accelerated its toponymic project and pursued methods whose main features were memoricide and erasure. Continuing into the post-1967 occupation, these colonial methods threaten the destruction of the diverse historical cultural heritage of the land.

Item Type: Journal Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Place names in Palestine, Arabo-Islamic heritage, Toponymic memory, Settler-colonialism, Palestinian Nakba, Israeli Government Names Committees, Biblical archaeology, cultural appropriation, Erasure and memoricide
School/Department: School of Arts and Humanities
Depositing User: Catherine O'Sullivan
Date Deposited: 21 Apr 2015 13:07
Last Modified: 14 Mar 2016 15:39
URI: http://research.stmarys.ac.uk/id/eprint/872

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