Country of Words
A Transnational Atlas for Palestinian Literature
Country of Words: A Transnational Atlas for Palestinian Literature is a digital-born project that retraces and remaps the global story of Palestinian literature in the twentieth century, starting from the Arab world and going through Europe, North America, and Latin America. Sitting at the intersection of literary history, periodical studies, and digital humanities, Country of Words creates a digitally networked and multilocational literary history—a literary atlas enhanced. The virtual realm acts as the meeting place for the data and narrative fragments of this literature-in-motion, bringing together porous, interrupted, disconnected, and discontinuous fragments into an elastic, interconnected, and entangled literary history.
Because of its transnational reality, Palestinian literature makes it possible for us to read together the national and the exilic. It also gives us the opportunity to explore new ways to write nonlinear and nonconventional literary histories of displacement and movement, and to uncover new constellations, networks, trajectories, relationships, and collaborations across multiple literary geographies and periods.
Country of Words taps into the power of Palestinian literature to defy conventional linear, chronological, and artificial national frames of representation. Despite the fact that an unprecedented number of the world's population live as refugees, exiles, or stateless people, the logic of the nation-state continues to loom large over literary studies. Delving into the decentralized and deterritorialized history of Palestinian literature, the story of an entire nation-in-exile living through repetitive cycles of occupation and in multiple diasporas can facilitate an understanding of extranational forms of literary production. Ultimately, Country of Words seeks to offer new perspectives and approaches that simultaneously include and transcend national literary frames.
Refqa Abu-Remaileh is Professor of Modern Arabic Literature and Film at the Freie Universität Berlin.