In Mapping Exile and Return: Palestinian Dispossession and a Political Theology for a Shared Future, American Mennonite theologian and aid worker Alain Epp Weaver explores a legacy of Palestinian Christian exile, and struggle for return. The book’s terrain ranges from the ethnically-cleansed villages of the Galilee to the Upper West Side of Manhattan.
Weaver focuses particularly on contending geographies: how “Palestinians have been ‘abolished from the map,’ in the words of Palestinian cartographer Salman Abu-Sitta,” and the prospect of “counter-cartographies that subvert colonialism’s map-making.”
His book encompasses the work of specialists, like Abu-Sitta’s maps, the writings of Edward Said, the Institute for Palestine Studies’ encyclopedic volume All That Remains: The Palestinian Villages Occupied and Depopulated by Israel in 1948, as well as “memory production” by thousands of Palestinians through collaborations like the web archive Palestine Remembered.
“In the face of Zionist rejection of Palestinian refugee return, international indifference, and an ineffectual and compromising Palestinian leadership for whom the refugee question is a source of irritation, Palestinian refugees pin their hopes on memory,” Weaver writes.
Significantly, he also includes extended histories of two key initiatives: the struggles for return by the ethnically-cleansed Christian villagers of Kufr Birim and Iqrit in the Galilee, and Zochrot, an Israeli organization dedicated to “remembering the Nakba in Hebrew.”
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