Palestine and the figure of the Palestinian in Lebanese diaspora literature
Research into the field of diaspora literature has become circumscribed by a focus on several recurring elements, namely ideas about home, the homeland, the nation and identity formation. This article, however, suggests that diaspora scholarship looks beyond these elements to gain a broader appreciation of what also is of intrinsic significance to diaspora writing. To illustrate this, it takes the example of the Lebanese diaspora novel and employs Caroline Levine’s concept of ‘form’ to highlight that Palestine, often treated as significant to this fiction in terms of historical context, is intrinsic to Lebanese migrant literature. Palestine orders and shapes Lebanese diaspora writing in pivotal ways, shedding light on how transformations of character, political issues and the impact of authors’ diasporic experiences on the narratives they craft are best understood through a considered investigation of Palestine’s fundamental forming role in this literature. In doing so, this paper addresses this issue’s broader concern with violent aftermaths, in this case the Palestinian Nakba and the Nakba’s continued impact on Palestinians in Lebanon. It aims to challenge the demonisation of Palestinian exiles by examining the ways Lebanese diaspora writers deploy fiction to both revise the Lebanese perception of Palestinian refugees and acknowledge the violence that Palestinians have endured in Lebanon.
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Diaspora literature, form/formalism, Caroline Levine, Lebanon, Nakba, Palestine