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Human Rights Center Premieres Film on Palestinian Refugees

April 14, 2008
By: WSU News

The Worcester State College Center for the Study of Human Rights to premier documentary from The Nakba Archive: 1948 generation Palestinian refugees in Lebanon narrate al-Nakba, Wednesday April 16, at 1:30 p.m. in the Student Center North/South Auditorium.

While recent historiography of the Palestine question shows a growing awareness of the importance of incorporating oral histories of the 1948 displacement there remain large gaps in what is known about how these events are remembered by the non-elite of Palestinian society. Since many first-generation refugees living in the camps are illiterate, the experiences of those who lived through this period of Palestinian history – which in Arabic has come to be known as al-Nakba, ‘the catastrophe’ –have remained largely undocumented.

Since 2002, the Nakba Archive has recorded 500 interviews on digital video with first-generation Palestinian refugees living in Lebanon about their recollections of 1948. Over three years, a collective of local and international scholars interviewed refugees from over 135 villages in pre-1948 Palestine. Although the archive focused primarily on camp communities, interviews were also conducted with unregistered refugees living in unofficial ‘gatherings’ and with the middle class and the elite. The Nakba Archive consists of around 1000 hours of filmed testimony, and contains a roughly equal number of interviews with men and women. This work was funded by the Welfare Association, the Ford Foundation and through private donations.

Documentaries from the Nakba Archives were featured at last fall’s Cinema East Film Festival in New York City and will be circulating at universities this spring. The presentation at Worcester State College marks the opening program of the Middle East Film Festival.

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