Nora E.H. Parr
BA (Queen's University, Kingston Ontario), MA (McGill University, Montreal)
The European idea of nation-state frames inexorably questions about belonging, identity, and subjectivity. Within the nation-state paradigm history and geographic space are imagined as paired into almost discrete units with individuals forming discrete collectives within them. In contemporary society, this is becoming an ever-more problematic organizing principle.
As a nation without a modern state, narratives by Palestinians about Palestinian experiences challenge how we understand belonging by problemitizing the generally static relationship between place, history and belonging.
Looking at Palestinian literature, the research project looks at how Palestinian authors use intertextuality to forge an alternative discourse on what it means to be a member of a national community. Taking intertextuality first as a literary device, where historical figures, fictional characters, entire works or artists are referenced within the pages of a novel, the interweaving of multiple textual spheres is examined as a way to bypass or overcome the master narratives shaped by nation-state.
Intertextuality has also been employed as a theory, where texts operate within a web, each influencing the next and drawing on its predecessors. Linking the two branches of intertextuality, the project looks at each of its novels as shaping and being shaped by a larger discourse on what it means to be Palestinian.
Such an alternative conception or mode of articulation about identity and subjectivity can be used to change, adapt or even challenge the nation-state paradigm so that the realities of community in the 21st century can be reflected in systems of thought.