The burden of being exemplary: national sentiments, awkward witnessing, and womanhood in occupied Palestine – Københavns Universitet

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19. maj 2015

The burden of being exemplary: national sentiments, awkward witnessing, and womanhood in occupied Palestine

This paper offers an analysis of how Palestinian wives of detainees are made into examples, both by themselves and by the people they are intimate with, whilst considering also the context of these women's awkward place in Palestinian narratives of national becoming. The main objective is to examine the burden of being an example, and what that implies for those who aspire to or are subtly coerced into inhabiting the position of an ‘exemplary’ woman in Palestine. Particular modalities of being an example are expected from Palestinian wives of detainees in order to sustain a shared version of the ordinary under military occupation. Not surprisingly, the emotional labour it takes to appear exemplary is necessarily eliminated from public as well as intimate registers of speech in order to keep up the collective aspiration to maintain a so-called ‘ordinary life’ during ongoing conflict.

Lotte Buch Segal: "The burden of being exemplary: national sentiments, awkward witnessing, and womanhood in occupied Palestine"; Journal of The Royal Anthropological Institute; 2015