This essay explores hip hop produced by Palestinian youth within the 1948 borders of Israel, a site that reveals some of the most acute contradictions of nationalism, citizenship, and settler colonialism. It focuses primarily on the pioneering Palestinian hip-hop group DAM, from Lid, and also on Arapeyat from Akka, Saz from Ramleh, and Awlad el Hara from Nazareth. The article offers the concept of the “present absent” as a profound analytic lens for understanding the fundamental contradictions of the social, political, and cultural conditions created by specific histories of settler colonialism for ’48 Palestinians, who are simultaneously visible/invisible, indigenous/inauthentic, and absent/present. We argue that this new genre of rap reimagines the geography of the nation, linking the experiences of these “’48 Palestinians” to those in the West Bank, in Gaza, and in the diaspora, and producing an archive of censored histories. The article situates this music within a genealogy of artistic and protest movements by ’48 Palestinians, providing a historical context for the national and political identities articulated in the music of a new generation of ’48 Palestinians. There are three major aspects of the articulation of the present/absent in ’48 Palestinian hip hop that we discuss: the critique of official narratives and state policies that rupture Israeli mythologies of democracy and inclusion; the rewriting of the ambiguity and alienation of being Palestinians from “’48”; and the attempt to connect Palestinians “inside” and “outside.”
Research Article|September 01 2012
Hip Hop from ’48 Palestine: Youth, Music, and the Present/Absent
Social Text (2012) 30 (3 (112)): 1-26.