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Title: Stories on the fault lines : storytelling, community, and memory among Israeli and Palestinian youth
Author: Biggs, Victoria Mary-Louise
ISNI:       0000 0004 6056 7236
Awarding Body: University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2017
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Storytelling holds a significant place in peace education and dialogue work with young people in Israel/Palestine, reflecting the popularity of the dual narrative approach as a framework for understanding the conflict. The approach is predicated on the assumption that there are two competing national narratives that have collided in the same geographical space, with young people only able to come to terms with the ‘other’ narrative through a process of concession and compromise, mediated by adults. Recognising the constraints and limitations of the dual narrative approach, my thesis focuses on the lives of Israeli and Palestinian youth who inhabit a border of some kind (physical, linguistic, ethnic, or intergenerational) and analyzes how stories are transmitted across and influenced by such boundaries. Special attention is given to traumatic histories that carry a social taboo, such as the Nakba in Israeli society and the Holocaust in Palestine, and how young people may develop and express their conceptions of community, belonging, and exclusion through storytelling. The research is grounded in ethnographic fieldwork and practical storytelling workshops conducted over sixteen months in Israel/Palestine (March 2014 to July 2015), with various methods of narrative inquiry forming the basis for data analysis, notably Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA). The thesis is divided into four chapters, which are based on the dominant themes that emerged through fieldwork. ‘Language and the Hidden Landscape’ is an applied linguistic analysis of how young people living in segregated communities imagine and narrate places that are off-limits to them. ‘Violence in the Narration of Self and Other’, an examination of the violence inherent in face-to-face storytelling that is grounded in the phenomenological theory, discusses how the storytellers deal with violence through narrative, their depiction of members of the ‘other’ community’, and the more disturbing and potentially violent functions of storytelling in peace education for youth. ‘Forbidden Histories in Contested Spaces’ unpicks the shadowy interweave between Holocaust and Nakba memory, while ‘Happily Ever After?’ examines how the narrators view and construct endings – both for the conflict, and in their narratives. These themes bring together time, place, and inhabitants’ interaction with place and memory, resulting in a more complex and nuanced understanding of how young people growing up with intractable conflict use storytelling to interpret their histories and make sense of their lives in the present day, as well as the ways in which stories may interact even in a highly polarized and segregated society. In conclusion, the role of storytelling with children in conflict zones is re-evaluated, with the research suggesting that there needs to be a shift in emphasis from storytelling as a means of therapy to storytelling as a social and political act, a means of enabling young people to take a more active role in community-building, rehabilitation, and ultimately reconciliation.
Supervisor: Taithe, Bertrand ; Jeffers, Alison Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Storytelling ; Cultural memory ; Israel ; Palestine ; Holocaust ; Nakba ; Political violence ; Peace and conflict studies ; Youth