Wait for her: a family memoir between Italy and Palestine. An analysis of literary strategies to negotiate personal and collective transnational identities

Hasbun, S (2022) Wait for her: a family memoir between Italy and Palestine. An analysis of literary strategies to negotiate personal and collective transnational identities. PhD thesis, Bath Spa University.

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Abstract

This thesis is formed by two parts: the memoir 'Wait for Her', and a theoretical exegesis. In order to understand the purview of this study the two parts should be read jointly. This research developed from an interest in understanding how the personal struggle to negotiate one's own transnational identity relates to a collective struggle for self-determination. 'Wait for Her' is an experimental memoir where I retrace the story of my parents and the life of my half-Italian, half-Palestinian family, from the 1960s to 2020. After the loss of my mother, I try to renegotiate my identity and understand what it means to grow up across cultures and under the influence of the Israel-­Palestine context. My narrative mixes performative and embodied knowledge, memoir, fiction, and historical investigation in order to cast a new layered light on the events which have affected my family and shaped the relationships between Europe and the Middle East for the last fifty years. Many works in recent years have explored the importance of specific literary strategies in postcolonial and transnational writing, but this thesis focuses specifically on the potential and pitfalls of non-fiction genres based on a narrative of the I - like memoirs, travel writing, life writing, autobiography - to offer a space for personal and political analysis. The main objective of this thesis is to overcome these genres' major inadequacies: the inadequacy of a first-person non-fiction narrative when writing about an entire cultural group; the inadequacy of the narrative form to convey the fluidity of identities in formation and hybrid identities; and finally, the inadequacy of narrating collective historical trauma from a personal perspective. The contextual essay is divided into two main chapters. In the first one, 'Themes and Methods', I explore the concept of performative. From it, I delineate those characteristics that allow me to put together the three sides of my research, namely an interest for daily embodied practices and how they influence our identities, the focus on Palestinian history, and the use of creative writing as my research methodology. In the second chapter, 'Analysis of Techniques', I give a close reading of my book. I pin down four techniques - a metanarrative adoption of fiction and non­fiction, third-person narration compensating for first-person narration, the role of performative elements, and the use of multiple languages - that I believe not only answer my research questions, but can contribute to the field of writing, especially non-fiction writing- from memoirs to historiography- to avoid the objectification of complex personal and communal identities on the page.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Note:

The document attached to this record is the contextualising research section of the thesis only. It does not include the creative component, which is the manuscript for the memoir 'Wait for Her'.

This research was carried out in affiliation with the University of Exeter and funded by the South-West & Wales Doctoral Training Partnership (AHRC).

Keywords: creative practice based, creative writing, transnational writing, postcolonial writing, memoir, narrative form, historiography, Italian history, Palestinian history, cultural identity
Divisions: School of Writing, Publishing and the Humanities
Date Deposited: 13 May 2022 17:27
Last Modified: 13 May 2022 17:55
URI / Page ID: https://researchspace.bathspa.ac.uk/id/eprint/14786
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