The Palestinian Oral History Archive (POHA) project, based at the American University of Beirut (AUB), was launched in 2011 to digitize, index, catalog, and provide access to over one thousand oral history testimonies by first-generation Palestinian refugees residing in Lebanon. The interviews and other recorded statements provide a valuable lens through which to examine a defining moment of rupture in Palestine's modern history from an underrepresented social and cultural perspective. This report highlights the methodological decisions that informed the planning and implementation of the POHA project as a grassroots digital archive that seeks to preserve the orality and immediacy of the refugees' narratives. The archive aims to engage scholars interested in Palestine studies, in particular, and Middle East studies, in general, within the broader framework of a person-centered archival perspective, with a view to furthering a dialogical ethnographic methodology and producing a narrative of the Nakba “from within.”
Narrating Palestine: The Palestinian Oral History Archive Project
Hana Sleiman is an archivist and PhD student in history at the University of Cambridge. Her work on archive creation and appropriation in modern Palestinian history has been published in the Arab Studies Journal (Spring 2016), and exhibited in the context of Qalandia International (Qi), a collaborative contemporary art event that takes place every two years across Palestinian cities and villages. From 2014–16, she worked as a special collections librarian at the University Libraries of the American University of Beirut (AUB).
Kaoukab Chebaro earned her PhD in philosophy from Columbia University and is the associate university librarian for archives and special collections and head of the Archives Department at the University Libraries of the American University of Beirut (AUB). Earlier, she was the Middle East and Islamic studies librarian at Columbia University.
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Hana Sleiman, Kaoukab Chebaro; Narrating Palestine: The Palestinian Oral History Archive Project. Journal of Palestine Studies 1 February 2018; 47 (2): 63–76. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/jps.2018.47.2.63
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