Date of Award

1-1-2011

Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation

Department

Geography

First Advisor

Amy Mills

Abstract

The Israel-Palestinian conflict is often analyzed in terms of international geopolitics, yet observing and debating the issues at the scale of competing states and nationalist forces hides the finer nuances of the conflict. This dissertation focuses instead at the geographic scale of the household and in the lived experiences of everyday life. The primary target group is young, single and educated Palestinian women, sometimes referred to collectively as binat Ramallah--Ramallah girls--generally a term with a disparaging connotation.This population navigates skillfully the dual spaces of home/household in their respective towns and villages throughout Palestine and the demands of work and the social and economic obligations in Ramallah.

This population of internal economic migrants demonstrates a distinctive gendered pattern migration reflecting and impacting the new and ever-changing Palestinian economic geography in which they navigate. These women are located at a critical site and time, transgressing normative gendered economic roles, while still valuing and reproducing aspects of the patriarchal structure in which they live. Simultaneously, they also are challenging, reconstructing, and repositioning themselves in a complex and shifting socio-political context, often thriving in the process. Many of these women endure dramatic personal and social upheaval in the cosmopolitan space of Ramallah, while contending with structural and individualized forms of discrimination--including poor working conditions, with little guarantee of permanent or long-term employment, a lack of adequate housing, public harassment, and their moral character being questioned. Another set of demands comes from `home'--pressures to dedicate money to the family household, and the desire to visit periodically, which places additional demands on their financial reserves and unfortunately subjects them to the hassles and harassment of a commute interrupted the infrastructure of Israeli occupation.

These are courageous women choosing a path that some (such as their families, communities and traditionalist thinkers) view as radical, or even revolutionary, because it defies, out of necessity, the established social norms which informally proscribe their living "alone" in Ramallah This unique case study illuminates a previously understudied element in larger Palestinian studies, giving a voice to her target population, yet also ties the experiences and concerns of Palestinian woman to the causes and concerns of women migrants at a global scale.

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