MESA Book Awards

Nadim Bawalsa

Institute for Palestine Studies

2023 Nikki Keddie Book Award Winner

Nadim Bawalsa

Nadim Bawalsa

Transnational Palestine: Migration and the Right of Return Before 1948

Stanford University Press 

Very few books exemplify the transregional shift in global and Middle Eastern history as compellingly and as brilliantly as Nadim Bawalsa has done in his groundbreaking, Transnational Palestine: Migration and the Right of Return before 1948. By decentering Palestinian history, through the story of Palestinian migrants to Latin American, the book shows that terms that we have commonly identified with the post Nakba era, especially Return and Diaspora, have their own history, and that this history is crucially important to our understanding of struggles for citizenship in the interwar period, and well beyond. The book meticulously reconstructs, and pays homage to, the lives of these Palestinian migrants, and the legal and cultural battles they were embroiled in to maintain their connections to Palestine. Presenting us with the often-silenced histories of Arab communities and public spheres in Latin America, the book shows that the boundaries between the national and the transnational are not as rigid as we often assume. Bawalsa also demonstrates that loyalties to a space and a place are not limited to specific boundaries, or to the decision-making of the British mandate in Palestine, and that national consciousness and sense of belonging can emerge in global frameworks. Bawalsa thinks creatively and compassionately about movements of migrants between continents, homelands, and legal frameworks, and in doing so, he too, spectacularly and impressively, moves between archives in several continents and languages, that capture the migrants hopes and struggles.           

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