The Home in the Middle Eastern City

A contact zone of contradictory memories and belonging in Jaffa 1

Authored by: Tovi Fenster

Routledge Handbook on Middle East Cities

Print publication date:  June  2019
Online publication date:  June  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138650749
eBook ISBN: 9781315625164
Adobe ISBN:


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In exploring the meanings and perceptions of the home in the Middle Eastern city of Jaffa as a contact zone of contradictory memories and belonging, this study presents a new method of the archaeology of the address. Focusing on historiographies of individual addresses, it examines the various tenants who have lived in a specific house, in this case the former home of my grandparents at 218 Yefet Street. This was a Palestinian house whose previous owners were dispossessed in 1948. The article analyses the perceptions of home, memory, and belonging of my mother and of the Palestinian grandson of the original owners, who happened to live across the road. It emphasizes the silence of the “winners” – my mother’s abstention from telling the story of the Arab house, conforming to the national politics of silencing – and the silence of the “losers” – the grandson’s reluctance to relate his feelings, adamantly refusing to collaborate with the “enemies”.

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