An Unsettled Return: Memory and Self-Identity in Lina Meruane’s Volverse Palestina
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Chile is home to one of the largest Palestinian communities outside of the Arab world. Despite its significant size of more than 400,000 people, few have undertaken comprehensive studies of the group and the literature it has produced. This thesis explores the emergence of a diasporic Palestinian consciousness among members of Chile's Palestinian community through an analysis of contemporary writer Lina Meruane's chronicle, Volverse Palestina [Becoming Palestinian] (2013). I argue that Meruane's novel approach to the diasporic Palestinian narrative of return textualizes the emergence of this consciousness in the context of Chile following the creation of the state of Israel in 1948. I will begin by providing an overview of Arab migration to Latin America, with a special emphasis on Palestinian migration to Chile. Following this, I will discuss literature written prior to 1948 by Chilean immigrants of Arab descent. I will then analyze Meruane's text in relation to its treatment of collective, intergenerational, and personal memory; diaspora space and border writing; and the concept of return. Lastly, I conclude that in addition to its importance for the Palestinian community in Chile, this narrative offers a refreshingly accessible entry point into the history of a complex, ongoing conflict.