THE VOICES OF ISRAELI AND PALESTINIAN WOMEN

Storytelling at the intersection between Peace and Conflict Studies and Feminist Theory

Much has been already written on one of the most peculiar conflicts of modern times, the IsraeliPalestinian conflict. Its “intractable” nature along with its high moral charge, make this conflict a very peculiar case in the tradition of Peace and Conflict Studies (PCS). Its complex and prolonged nature have triggered over the years the work of politicians, diplomats and scholars to unveil possible solutions in order to ease the livelihood of the populations involved. Nevertheless, strategies and plans have too often stemmed from the analysis of the situation through the lenses of statist intervention and institutional diplomacy, leaving more grassroots, bottom-up processes to be rather neglected. This concern, which has been tackled by scholars and practitioners of PCS, has been partly shared by Feminist scholars within the field. The input given by Feminist Theory to the field of PCS relates to the consideration of gender as an essential element to undertake in any analysis of conflictaffected societies. In this sense, the call for innovative methods to address intractable conflicts and their de-escalation and eventual resolution, operated by both PCS and Feminist scholars, finds an interesting, albeit often overlooked, element in the analysis of storytelling. The act of interpretation, that telling a story conveys, bears the multi-layered, complex and ambiguous nature of human experiencing. Therefore, a focus on storytelling as the production of meaning in a determined context, could unveil elements that would be lost in the background noise of hegemonic discourses. Acknowledging the militarized nature and the presence of hegemonic discourses on masculinity in both the Israeli and Palestinian societies, this works aims at focusing on women’s storytelling. To do so, the database of the project Political is Personal, will be analysed through a two-phased narrative analysis. The analysis of storytelling in this peculiar context, represents an innovative compromise between the need to use gender lenses in the analysis of wars, addressed by Feminist tradition, and the call to focus on the “everyday” and the relational experience of a conflict, posed by the last generation of PCS scholars and practitioners. Therefore, the aim of this work is to question whether to switch the focus on the micro level of analysis, namely on the lives of the people affected by the conflict rather than its underlying political processes, could yield a deeper understanding and a more layered knowledge of a situation that has been often doomed as intractable. In doing so, the adoption of gender lenses will question the monolithic division between a hegemonic masculinity and a devalued womanhood, proving that putting women’s voices out front, shows the presence of a more nuanced and less binary notion of femininity. Within the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, in a situation characterized by highly asymmetric power relations, dislodging the notion of femininity from its monolithic, stereotyped, and devalued depiction through a focus of storytelling shows the presence of common elements in the stories of Israeli and Palestinian women. Acknowledging the presence of a shared narrative and the value of narrative analysis in digging out hidden narrative 4 elements, represents the first step towards a more conscious and inclusive approach to gender and conflict resolution, that opens the doors for future research and initiatives on the topic.

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