University Libraries continue work on the Palestinian Oral History Archive

February 17, 2015

The University Libraries, in collaboration with the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs have recently launched the Palestinian Oral History Archive; an archival collection that contains more than 1,000 hours of testimonies with first generation Palestinians and other Palestinian communities in Lebanon. The project will digitize, index, catalog, preserve, and provide access to the material through the creation of a state-of the art digital platform. It aims to expand and include additional oral history collections documenting varied aspects of the Palestinian experience in Lebanon and the region. The project is being completed in partnership with the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs at AUB, the Nakba Archive and the Arab Resource Center for Popular Arts (AL-JANA).

The Arab Resource Center for Popular Arts and the Nakba Archive have independently conducted and collected oral history interviews with members of the Palestinian community in Lebanon. As custodians of this material, the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs, along with the American University of Beirut – University Libraries have taken the responsibility to digitize, index, catalogue and preserve the collection.

The eyewitness narratives of first generation refugees have been instrumental to the survival of the cultural geography of spaces, traditions, and histories from pre-1948 Palestine. The Archive documents the life stories of Palestinians residing in refugee camps and different communities in Lebanon. The Archive’s main focus is personal accounts surrounding the Nakba, which elucidate a defining moment in Palestinian history and collective experience. Furthermore, the collection contains life narratives of the pre-Nakba period, folk tales and songs, and stories of the women in Ein el-Helwe camp after its destruction in 1982.

Ms. Hana Sleiman, Special Collections Librarian at AUB University Libraries, and the Project Manager, gave an interview about the project to the Archipelago podcast platform. You can listen to the interview here:  http://the-archipelago.net/2015/02/15/hana-sleiman-constructing-a-palestinian-oral-history-archive/

To read more about the project, click here: http://aub.edu.lb/ifi/programs/poha/Pages/index.aspx,  or Contact Ms. Hana Sleiman, Special Collections Librarian at AUB University Libraries via email: hs76@aub.edu.lb

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