Spatiotemporal (Dis)ruptures and Postmemorial Absence in Palestine +100
This article argues that spatiotemporal (dis)ruptures in the collection Palestine +100 (2019) extend and problematize Marianne Hirsch’s concept of postmemory to produce what I call a “postmemorial absence.” Each story takes place in 2048, or 100 years following the collective trauma of the Nakba. However, when articulated through a critical framework of Absence and Loss (Dominick LaCapra, 1999), the stories attest that this event has not been relegated to the past but continues to reverberate through successive generations, resulting in a uniquely Palestinian postmemory. Collective traumatic remembrance is a burden leading to isolation and alienation. Science fiction, with its future orientation, has not been popular with Palestinian authors whose literature is largely characterized by allegiance to the past. Palestine +100 is unique in that the intentional framing compels writers to contend with a future imaginary. This results in stories dominated by spatiotemporal (dis)ruptures: characters inhabit parallel spaces and simulations; time moves backwards or stands still; and the notion of “return,” which looms large in the Palestinian psyche, is digitized in innovative and unique ways. The article argues that these stories illuminate a narrative present (which, for the reader and writer, is the near future) characterized by profound absence and alienated suspension. It is a present (future) which lacks meaningful existence in light of a past that has not passed. In such a void, memory and, by extension, history become the enemy. Consequently, characters are trapped between a duty to remember and a desire to forget. This tension illustrates an attempt to sever the inter- and transgenerational link of trauma that is produced by the structure of postmemory.
Keywords: Palestinian postmemory, absence and loss, collective trauma, memory, transgenerational trauma