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The dynamics of negation: identity formation among Palestinian Arab college students inside the green line

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How does granting certificates of ‘business clean of Arab workers’ to owners of shops, stores, and Jewish businesses who prove they are not employing Arab workers shape identity? Identity development involves making sense of, and coming to terms with, the social world one inhabits, recognizing choices and making decisions within contexts, and finding a sense of unity within one's self while claiming a place in the world. Since there is no objective, ahistoric, universal trans-cultural identity, views of identity must be historically and culturally situated. This paper explores identity issues among members of the Palestinian Arab minority in Israel. While there is a body of literature exploring this subject, we will offer a different perspective by contextualizing the political and economic contexts that form an essential foundation for understanding identity formation among this minority group. We argue that, as a genre of settler colonialism, ‘pure settlement colonies’ involve the conquering not only of land, but of labor as well, excluding the natives from the economy. Such an exclusion from the economy is significant for its cultural, social, and ideological consequences, and therefore is especially significant in identity formation discussed in the paper. We briefly review existing approaches to the study of identity among Palestinian Arabs in Israel, and illustrate our theoretical contextual framework. Finally, we present and discuss findings from a new study of identity among Palestinian Arab college students in Israel through the lens of this framework.
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Keywords: Palestinians; civil identity; identity formation; national identity; negation; pure settlement colony

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Sociology and Anthropology, University of Wisconsin-Parkside, Kenosha, WI, USA 2: Education Department, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beersheva, Israel

Publication date: January 1, 2013

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