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Place, exile and identity: the contemporary experience of Palestinians in Sydney

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Statelessness, displacement and exile, far from being particular moments in history, continue to affect the lives of Palestinians living in Sydney, in the maintenance of national identity and community formation. The impacts that displacement and subsequent 'statelessness' have had on the ways in which Palestinians maintain a sense of national identity have similarities with those of other 'displaced' peoples. Without the recognition of national boundaries to secure national sovereignty (Palestine) and accommodate the continuation of a shared and inherited history, the most significant element through which Palestinian identity is kept 'alive' is the one thing that all Palestinians share: a communal sense of injustice which involves being denied the right to live in, or return to, their homeland. Statelessness, nationalism and the now 'imagined community' of Palestine are more crucial for Palestinians living in Sydney than more primordial elements of identity, such as language or local community. Statelessness and exile in Australia have constructed a particular sense of Palestinian nationalism. The continuity of Palestinian identity as a primarily political phenomenon is a situation analogous to that of other diasporic refugee communities.
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Keywords: Palestinians;; Sydney;; community;; diaspora; identity;; nationalism;

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Sydney, Australia

Publication date: November 1, 2003

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