Thinking the past politically: Palestine, power and pedagogy

Norton, Claire and Donnelly, Mark (2016) Thinking the past politically: Palestine, power and pedagogy. Rethinking History, 20 (2). pp. 192-216. ISSN 1364-2529

[img] Text
CNMD_thinkingpast_open.docx - Accepted Version

Download (66kB)
Official URL:


This article explores the socio-political, economic and legal implications of what counts as historical knowledge. Academic history has long been practiced as if its value and authority reside in its ability to produce truth, but pretending that that history occupies an epistemologically foundational position is an illusion that needs to be abandoned. History is a discourse whose sources of cultural power is ultimately social and institutional. By examining narrations of the Nakba, the article focuses attention back on to the political dimensions of historical practices and how hegemonic historical interpretations of Israel’s establishment in 1948 are closely intertwined with questions of identity and legitimisation. The second half of the article considers a number of reflexive, vernacular narratives on the subject of Palestinian and Israeli pasts that seek to make a direct ethical or political intervention and challenge the dominant discourse. In many ways, these works foreground how traditional academic histories tend to function as a representative of hegemonic discourses. They are more effective in making clear the issues, framing the arguments, engaging with broader, non-academic audiences and stimulating ethical discussion and political action. The focus on how broader mnemonic and cultural orientations towards ‘pastness’ have been mobilised effectively as cultural and rhetorical resources in tactical campaigns for socio-political justice culminates with an analysis of the case of the American-Palestinian Rasmea Odeh. This example shows how historicising praxis can be used to both reinforce and challenge state power as manifested by the judiciary.

Item Type: Journal Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: history; Palestine; Israel; vernacular past-talk; politics; power; Rasmea Odeh
Subjects: 900 History & geography > 956 History of the Middle East (Near East)
School/Department: School of Arts and Humanities
Depositing User: Kevin Sanders
Date Deposited: 11 May 2016 12:42
Last Modified: 04 Sep 2017 00:30


If Altmetric statistics are available for this item, they will be visible below.

Actions (login required)

Edit Item Edit Item
Downloads per month over past year