Essential Readings: Palestinians in Latin America

Palestinian struggles in maintaining a strong national identity have been affected by the emergence of three similar yet distinct groups:

internally displaced persons; refugees in exile; and Palestinians who have emigrated from their homeland to countries outside of the Middle East. This third group includes descendants born outside of their ancestral homeland.

Narratives of Palestinians living in Latin America, falling in the third group, have been largely neglected in scholarly discourses. They do not fit well into a national narrative that has been exclusive to the refugee experience. Therefore, they have not had much space in Palestinian historiography and often do not meet the category of “Palestinian-ness” as defined by a nationalist discourse centered on statelessness and dispossession.

This list of essential readings for those interested in the topic surveys the existing literature (in English, Spanish, and Arabic) on questions scholars have raised regarding Arabs, and more specifically, Palestinians living in Latin America and their relationships to both their homeland and their new communities.

It describes their arrival in Latin America from the Levant and Palestine; their integration into Latin American society; the factors behind their considerable success; and the consequences of discrimination. Furthermore, it incorporates scholarship on the inter-regional links between Latin America and the Middle East and the impact of Latin American policy on the Middle East, as demonstrated in relations with Israel and the Arab states, as well as Latin America’s involvement in partitioning Palestine.

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