A pioneering comparative analysis of colonialism in the New World
and Holy Land, exploring the ways in which settler societies transform
theological narratives into national histories to justify their
occupation of foreign land.
"Beating The Drums Again. STEVEN SALAITA, assistant professor of English of Virginia Tech, says the Palestinians are currently involved in one of the world’s last colonial wars. In The Holy Land in Transit he sees parallels in the Zionist settlement of Palestine with the colonial conquest of the New World and the consequent displacement of the indigenous peoples.
This theme is worthy of further exploration, he says, ‘even though Natives and Palestinians have no other historical connection to speak of...’ Just as Indian attacks on white settlements were a natural reaction to a European colonial invasion, so too Palestinian attacks on the highways and suicide bombings in towns are a consequence to Jewish proliferation in the land.
He sees the European settlement of the New World, at the expense of the Native Indians, as ethnic cleansing, and ascribes the same blame to the returning Jews as they settle the Holy Land at the expense of the original few Palestinians who were living there.
It’s a disturbing thesis but one well worth pondering.
—Tim Boxer, www.15minutesmagazine.com
Steven Salaita’s ambitious and thought-provoking work compares the dynamics of settler colonialism in the United States related to Native Americans with the circumstances in Israel related to the Palestinians, revealing the way in which politics influences literary production.
The author’s original approach is based not on similarities between the two disparate settler regions but rather on similarities between the rhetoric employed by early colonialists in North America and that employed by Zionist immigrants in Palestine. Meticulously examining histories, theories, and literary depictions of colonialism and interethnic dialects, Salaita identifies the commonalities in the myths employed by both groups as well as the "counter-discourse" cultivated in the literature of resistance by native peoples. He complements his analysis with personal observations of Palestinians in Lebanese refuge camps, where he encountered a sympathetic perception of American Indians.
The Holy Land in Transit presents one of the first intercommunal studies to assess the ways in which indigenous authors react to analogous colonial dynamics. With great energy and perception the author offers a fresh contribution to an emerging frame of reference for historical, political, literary, and cultural investigation.
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Steven Salaita is assistant professor of English at Virginia Tech. He is the author of
Anti-Arab Racism in the U.S.A. and Arab American Literary Fictions, Cultures and Politics.
6 x 9, 216 pages, notes, bibliography, index