Identity formulation through experiencing: “distances by traveling” and “distances by departing”
In 1851, the first Palestinian man arrived in Brazil as an asylum seeker following a harsh long journey. He was probably carried by a cargo ship from Haifa Port to Marseille, then by another to Rio de Janeiro. In the same year, Palestinian merchants participated in an exhibition in Chicago/ USA and showcased middleeastern antiques produced in the Holy Land.
In the last decade, death boats in the Mediterranean have reaped the lives of thousands of people escaping wars in Iraq, Syria and Gaza. Immigration in Palestine started in the 20th century by young people escaping to western countries to dodge forced military service imposed by the Ottoman Empire in WWI World, while tens of thousands of Palestinians found themselves forced to leave their cities and villages to dwell in refugee camps that are still existing.
I worked on a drama with teachers that arose from this complex and multifaceted historical context. A subject that influences and is influenced by people’s lives. Travelling between different geographies has changed our perception of identity through deconstructing and re-examining it. In light of this, the drama that I worked on was able to explore the concepts of place, distance, the Other, in their relation to people’s fate. We explored the meaning of identity as a “cultural and historical definition of the individual or group of people”, and as an individual’s identification card (passport) and the relation between both.
What follows is a selection of Kurdi’s inspiring words from the keynote…
“I carry with me something of what is there to leave it here and I carry some of what is here to take it there.”
“This ‘I’ that travels from one place to another does not remain the same. This transition from the familiar to the unknown through the horizon of expectations is a journey.”
“…these migrations inhabit me with all their details, texts, and memories. As if to move is also to reside. As if to move is to dwell. As if our departure inhabits us. We inhabit our material and metaphoric voyage.”
“How can staying also be departure?”
Palestine, is a poet, writer and practitioner in the field of Drama in
Education. He runs the position of the Director of the Educational Research and Development Programme/A.M. Qattan Foundation. He worked as the Managing Editor of Al-Kateb Magazine, and is currently the Chief Editor of Ru’a Tarbawiyya periodic educational magazine and a Referee at NATD Journal, published by the National Association for Teaching of Drama. He has four poetry collections. He also wrote four lyrical dance performances produced by Al-Funoun Dance Troupe and The Edward Said National Conservatory of Music. He has several published studies and books in the field of Drama and Education such as “The Burst of Words”, “Art Education in School Teaching”, and “Men under the Sun: Presence and Absence of Text”. He presented in several conferences including IDIERI (The International Drama in Education Research Institute Conference) in Singapore in 2015 and the NYU Forum on Educational Theatre in 2016. Some of his areas of research interest include human practice from artistic production to aesthetic perception and drama as a context for exploring knowledge and artistic inspiration.