The Role of Historical Representations in Israeli–Palestinian Relations: Narratives From Abroad

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Abstract

This study focuses on narratives of historical events that were discussed during open ended interviews about conflict and coexistence within Israeli–Palestinian relations. Jewish Israelis and Palestinians living in London often used historical events as a way of justifying a positioning of a perspective that was felt to be central to the conflict and its possible resolution. These historical themes included the Holocaust, Biblical interpretations, and the effects of Israel gaining statehood in 1948. Narrative research is useful to portray stories that reflect a description of a perceived social reality in order to gain understanding of the meanings people give to their lived experiences. The theory of social representations provides an opportunity to explore further a narrative approach that includes the significance of intersubjectvity across group boundaries. It was found that each group defined themselves through the perspectives of ‘the other,’ demonstrating how studying both groups together can highlight an understanding of the contextual processes that might lie between them. By exploring how these particular narratives have been anchored and objectified, we can plot how representations of past events are continually developing to reflect present day positioning and ideas for future action. Although representations of intractability between the 2 groups were present, the results did not suggest that this was the only perspective taken, as other futures were imagined where conflict plays a lesser role.

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