The Truthfulness of the Five Senses: On Existing and Coexistence
The Saladin Lecture by Isabella Hammad
Is it possible to imagine coexistence when one part continues to erase the other? And what is it like to have roots in a place where that history in many ways is erased?
Isabella Hammad’s critically acclaimed novel The Parisian follows Palestinian Midhat as he sets out from his home city of Nablus to France for studies, around the beginning of the first world war. In France, he discovers himself as “the other” – considered “exciting” by some, “primitive” by others. Returning to Nablus years later, both the city and he himself have changed.
Hammad found inspiration for her novel in her own great-grandfather, who made a similar journey. When she travelled to Nablus in her twenties to do research for the novel, the city and surrounding West Bank had been militarily occupied by Israel, governed by the Palestinian Authority. What is left of her grandfather’s history there?
In this original lecture, Hammad expands on the responsibilities of fiction in dealing with historical and political realities in the colonized world.