Throughout modern-day Israel, over four hundred villages were depopulated in the 1947-1949 war. With houses mostly destroyed, mosques and churches put to other uses, and cemeteries plowed under, Palestinian communities were left geographically dispossessed. Palestinians have since carried their village names, memories, and possessions with them into the diaspora, transforming their lost past into local histories in the form of “village memorial books.” Numbering more than 100 volumes in print, these books recount family histories, cultural traditions, and the details of village life, revealing a Palestinian history through the eyes of Palestinians.
Through a close examination of these books and other commemorative activities, Rochelle Davis’s Palestinian Village Histories reveals how history is written, recorded, and contested, as well as the roles that Palestinian conceptions of their past play in contemporary life. Moving beyond the grand narratives of twentieth century political struggles, this book analyzes individual and collective historical accounts of everyday life in pre-1948 Palestinian villages as composed today from the perspectives of these long-term refugees.