Storytelling in the Arab and Palestinian Context
Storytelling is a key social interaction. Through stories people, individuals as societies, give meaning to what they have experienced. Storytelling builds the imagination of individuals and societies. Building, controlling or destroying narratives is a strong political tool, in oppression as much as in creating resistance.
For centuries the storyteller was a transmitter of news. The following texts provide information on the role of storytelling in Arab countries and specifically in Palestine.
Can the art of storytelling be preserved? - by Richard Hamilton for bbc.com on 5 October 2011
At a festival in Jordan celebrating the centuries-old art of storytelling, the BBC's Richard Hamilton asks whether modern technology can help preserve a dying tradition?
It is thought that storytelling as a profession originated in the Middle East, in Mesopotamia to be precise. It is the region that produced the most famous collection of all, Alf Layla wa-Layla or One Thousand and One Nights, in about the ninth Century. continue
Palestinian storyteller brings fresh vision to ancient tradition - by Ahmed el-Komi for al-Monitor 9 April 2017
NABLUS, West Bank — Stories and folktales are some of the oldest narrative forms in Arabic literature. There is no accurate history of their origin, but according to history studies this type of narration emerged in prehistoric times, when men communicated through signs and gestures, before acquiring a language.
Although storytelling is normally reserved for the elderly, Hamza Aqrabawi from the West Bank city of Nablus has turned his hobby into a full-time occupation.
Storytelling is a traditional practice that involves a person telling folktales in homes, shops, restaurants and in the streets. The storyteller impersonates his characters in the stories and keeps his audience hooked on knowing how the story unfolds. continue
Palestinian oral tradition as a defense against displacement - by n.n. for albawaba.com on 20 September 2016
Oral history has a long precedent in Arab and Palestinian culture that stems from a broader oral tradition. In the years immediately following the Nakba of 1948, the Arab tradition of the hakawati (storyteller) was used, according to Nur Masalha, to shore up a defense against erasure of culture and memory among Palestinians. Since then, oral history has served as a prominent counter narrative in the context of active settler colonialism throughout Palestine and colonialism's afterlives in the Arab world. It is a primary method through which Palestinians engage collective events of trauma or mobilization.
For Palestinians in the homeland as well as in exile, oral history production centers around a common experience of displacement. Around 67 percent of Palestinians are displaced: The most recent estimates put the global Palestinian refugee and internally displaced population at nearly 8 million. By locating the oral history process in the idea of a space such as a village ethnically cleansed during the Nakba, displaced communities forge a physical center even after depopulation. continue