‘This is Palestine’: history and modernity in guidebooks to Mandate Palestine

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Tourist guides to colonised territories are usually understood as instruments of the coloniser, imposing ideas of native inferiority through orientalism and convictions of primitiveness. This article, however, shows how Palestinian Arabs and Zionist Jews in the later period of British Mandate rule used guidebooks, written in English and particularly aimed at a readership of Commonwealth soldiers on leave, as a means of asserting and conveying their rival claims to Palestine to popular Anglophone audiences. In particular, they combined the more conventional coverage of historical and religious sites with insistence on the modernity and technological progress to be found amongst their respective cultures and histories. I understand this as both a tactical usage of the concept of modernity to intervene in image-making about the Middle East, and as a conscious effort by Palestinian Arabs and Jews to insist that modern values, associated in the language of the Mandate and notions of progress, were inherent in their cultures and social practices.




Irving, S. (2019). ‘This is Palestine’: history and modernity in guidebooks to Mandate Palestine. Contemporary Levant, 4(1), 64–74. https://doi.org/10.1080/20581831.2019.1594613

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