Guest contribution by Jumana Al-Qawasmi
A couple weeks ago, I whipped together a quick cover photo commemorating my Palestinian hometown of Al-Khalil (I am a proud Khaliliyya and will always be). To my surprise, this quick project was really popular. So, I embellished on this idea and began a mini project, creating similar images for cities throughout the Middle East, like Cairo, Muscat, and Damascus. I liked the idea of remembering towns as they were, are, and will be (another ‘reclamation project’, really).
I was then asked to create these images for all sixteen districts of Palestine. When compiling the photographs necessary for this mini project, I quickly grew astonished at how little I knew about each district. Could I rally off some unique features of Safad, of Beersheba, of Jenin with relative ease? Unfortunately, I could not.
One could chalk this up to the egregious aftermath of the Nakba: I, as a Palestinian, am so estranged from Palestine that I do not know the culture, geography, and rich narrative of my homeland as well as I otherwise could.
But to do so would be to rid myself (and you) of all blame. It’s easy to get on the internet and research the distinguishing features of each district. You’ll learn about the White Tower of Ramleh, of Napoleon’s defeat at Akka, of the railroad systems linking various districts to the rest of the Middle East. The plethora of images — ranging from the late 1800s to present day — is alone enough to acquaint yourself with Palestine from afar. I recommend searching with the Arabic form of the district name; you come up on more Palestinian sources that way, rather than tiresome Israeli ones. [Read more...]