American Sociological Association

How and Why Haifa Has Become the “Palestinian Cultural Capital” in Israel

With the growth of Palestinian original cultural productions and independent performance venues in Haifa, its residents have dubbed it the “Palestinian cultural capital in Israel.” An important cosmopolitan center prior to the loss of its majority Palestinian population in 1948, how have Haifa's Palestinian residents today revived the city and claimed this ambitious new title? What factors have enabled this development to take place specifically in Haifa? And, what can it tell us about Palestinians’ imagination of national space under Israel's dominance? In this article, I address these questions and argue that the appearance of a new generation of a Palestinian urban middle class and the regression of Haifa's centrality in Israeli geopolitics have allowed educated and affluent Palestinians to (re)create a decidedly Palestinian civic sphere through cultural activities. I further argue that this imagining of Haifa demonstrates the ways cultural production can assert belonging to the Palestinian nation.


Nadeem Karkabi





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