10th International Culture Studies Conference Refereed Proceedings

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Research Title: 
And Now We Are of Clay and Light
Abdel Karim Daragmeh
Turkey - Ege University
Wed, 2004-12-01
Research Abstract: 

Abdel Karim Mohammed currently works as an assistant professo' of comparative literature and c ill! ral studies at An-Najah National University, He teaches Cultural Theory, Liter, ry Criticism, Comparative Literature, and Post¬Colonial Literature. His research interests are in comparative cultur al analysis and post-Marxist literary theory. He takes the definition of a cultural text beyond the traditional one of seeking material for analysis on the shelves of libraries. The definition expands to include ordinary conversations, media presentations, images and photographs, classroom discussions, and other such cultural phenomena. One finds there a first-hand, unofficial narrative of cultural transitions and evolutions.

"And We Are of Clay and Light": Palestinian National Memory on the Border Between Myth and History

This paper analyzes the cultural productions of a world-renowned narrator who has contributed heavily to forging anl re-forging Palestinian national memory. Mahmud DarV/ish's writing does not only contribute to U'1 nation's cre,Jtion, but also restructures national discourse to introduce altematives. Much of whai he said Cl' I wrote is reality-bound and historically-conditioned.

In his later work (1990s),tension appears o~er the interpretation of the national narrative as formed in the political

and cultural discourse of the sixti~s. Three questions arise, the first, a pragmatic one: is the end to wandering possible? The second question isa national ,one: can the outcome of Oslo Accords deliver the'natlon co'nstructSd in early nationalist discoorse? The third and final question is an ethical one: must new generations inherit the responsibility of their ancestors? The concept that reappears compulsively, now under this form, now under another, is what to do with the physical memory of houses and villages the refugees fled in 1948. At this juncture, the writer presents the reconstruction of earlier nationalist thought as both continuity and rupture.

transient state les~; conditioned by history.

As we progress in time, we notice that the value of literary works shifts from traditional Marxist functionalism attuned to the national project, to a dialogic structure where the comfort zone of uniformity in national culture dramatically shrinks. The lines that earlier defined the nation's boundary start to fade. The speaker is out of time and place. The utterance becomes a zone of tension symptomatic of the memory crisis Palestinians have been living since Oslo. Darwish situates his poetic voice on the- border between myth and history- "clay and light"- a space that allows for rupture and continuity, at once inside and outside history. In this liminal territory, there is room for both remembering and forgetting, and his verse becomes correspondingly paradoxical. Parallel 10 the evolution in nation;31 politics and culture, there runs a corresponding transformation in the significance of imagery across time. The dominant symbols recur marking the continuation of themes and trends introduced in his early work. As Darwish enters the realm of atemporal creative memory.