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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

From Petition to Confrontation: The Palestinian National Movement and the Rise of Mass Politics, 1929-1939
by Anderson, Charles W., Ph.D., New York University, 2013, 1199; 3602635
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation provides a history from below of Palestinian national movement and Arab society during the tumultuous decade of the 1930s. It argues that the influence and authority of the small group of factionalized and disunited notable politicians that are conventionally understood to have monopolized the leadership of the national struggle during the era of British Mandatory rule has been greatly overstated. This is especially so for the restive and rebellious middle period of the Mandate (1929-1939), during which the movement turned from a conciliatory and quietist strategy of gentlemanly diplomacy preferred by elite politicians to confrontation, mass mobilization and armed struggle, culminating in "the Great Revolt" (1936-1939), a prolonged anti-colonial rebellion against both British rule and the Zionist project it sponsored. By examining the political practices, organizing, self-understanding, and leadership capacities of "youth" and peasants, the dissertation explicates the eclipse of elite preeminence within the national movement and the rise of the new, horizontally-organized social forces that reshaped and radicalized Palestinian politics in the 1930s.

The dissertation first explores the proliferation of youth associations in the early 1930s and illuminates how the rise of youth as an assertive, ambitious, and politically frustrated element had profound ramifications for the tactics, strategy, and trajectory of the national movement. The narrative then turns to track the decomposition of the Arab rural order from the late Ottoman era to 1936, paying particular attention to the crisis of the countryside under the British, who fecklessly intensified pre-existing tendencies towards peasant destitution, bankruptcy, and dispossession, thereby helping to create a disaffected class of uprooted ex-peasants. The final section analyzes the Great Revolt, focusing on the critical roles of youth, peasants, and workers in initiating and propelling it and on the popular and revolutionary institutions that organized and sustained it against great odds for over three years. This section also interrogates British counterinsurgency, highlighting the role of specific forms of colonial violence, especially collective punishments, in ending the rebellion, and with it the ascent of popular forces within the national movement.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Lockman, Zachary
Commitee: Gelvin, James L., Gilsenan, Michael, Goswami, Manu, Tamari, Salim
School: New York University
Department: Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies and History
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 75/03(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Middle Eastern history, Middle Eastern Studies
Keywords: Anti-colonialism, Palestine, Palestinian nationalism, Palestinians, Revolt, Social movements
Publication Number: 3602635
ISBN: 978-1-303-55868-9
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