Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Trauma and Identity: The Search for Peace in Palestine
by Combes, Marie Louise deRaismes, M.A., The American University of Paris (France), 2009, 130; 10305768
Abstract (Summary)

Why is the Arab/Israeli crisis such an enduring conflict? Acknowledging the fact that the Israeli government has been resistant to productive political peace initiatives, I seek to shed light on how the traumatic social identity of many Palestinians affects their own prospects for psychic reparation as individuals and as a nation. Applying principles of psychology, sociology, and international relations, I specifically look at the role of Palestinian identity in young male students at an-Najah University, analyzing their notions of self in relation to the trauma of Israeli occupation. Referring to the work of Vamik Volkan. I further endeavor to correlate these experiences of trauma to expressions of social consciousness, with particular emphasis on the transgenerational inheritance of loss associated with the original dispossession of Palestine (al-Nakba). This chosen trauma has potentially profound effects on the regressed society, particularly those youth who are caught up in the same identity conflicts of their parents or grandparents. With the Israeli occupation serving as a daily reminder of this powerlessness, many Palestinian youth seem to be stuck in a perpetual mourning response to their traumatic environment, maintaining stringent notions of 'us' versus the enemy 'them.' Although negative perceptions of the 'other' help propagate the antagonistic atmosphere found in the occupied territories, a growing belief in peaceful coexistence has taken fragile root among students over the last few years and questions the fundamental perception that Palestine cannot exist without its chosen trauma as identity parameter. What results is a sort of identity confusion or crisis between believing in the power of political violence as a means of legitimizing the Palestinian nation, or foregoing violent resistance in lieu of social initiatives at binational coexistence. Finding that the oppressive nature of the Israeli occupation stymies student hopes in the adaptive power of Palestinian social development, I conclude that current youth awareness still ultimately relies on hostility as an identity paradigm, prolonging the emotional enmity inherent to the conflict, yet causing little in the way of actual violence. However, projecting that future generations will have greater success in peace as the desire for coexistence increases, the author suggests ways to augment the legitimacy of nonviolence as a national discourse.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Perry, Susan H.
Commitee: Sfeir, Jihane
School: The American University of Paris (France)
Department: International Affairs, Conflict Resolution, and Civil Society
School Location: France
Source: MAI 56/02M(E), Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Social psychology, Middle Eastern Studies, Peace Studies, International Relations
Keywords: Arab-Israeli crisis, Identity confusion, Palestine, Peace initiatives, Trauma
Publication Number: 10305768
ISBN: 978-1-369-49332-0
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