The history of Palestine is one written by others, Roman and Arab conquerors, Ottoman and British rulers, and today a Zionist shadow looms. As if finally realizing that claims to territory demand a claim to history, following the defeat of 1967 some individuals began to write down their memories, a trend that has gathered apace in subsequent decades. These authors are not historians and they do not venture into the archives; they rely solely on their memory and many of them do not even live in Palestine. They share one thing: the hope that they will one day return. This hope is however not to be understood as a concrete physical relocation but rather a hope for the return of a Palestinian state. And this marks the second key date of this work: the year 2000, when these hopes were dashed.
Literatures in Context is a peer-reviewed book series devoted to Near Eastern and North African literatures. The editors want the title of the series to be understood programmatically. They presuppose a concept of world literature that includes Near Eastern and North African literatures. What is more, they assume that literatures are in many ways marked by intertextuality, that they constitute readings of extremely diverse earlier texts, and that they are posited within a field of tensions, much broader than their respective national language. For the earlier eras of Near Eastern and North African literatures, this field of tensions geographically covers the regions of the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean and Asia Minor. In modern times, it has become a space of interaction that has long since included “global” Western literatures (and realities). This does not imply that the modern Near Eastern and North African literatures have severed themselves from their predecessors. Instead it is precisely the tension between different sets of references in modern Near Eastern and North African literatures, or their “local historical context”, which is a great part of their attraction, that remains a crucial field of research for the modern scholar.