Hip Hop from ’48 Palestine: Youth, Music, and the Present/Absent

The digital material presented here is meant to supplement the article “Hip Hop from ’48 Palestine: Youth, Music, and the Present/Absent” from the current issue of Social Text (30.3, Fall 2012). An abstract for the article can be read below.

DAM: “Born Here”
Wlad el 7ara’s song in Memory Of Mahmoud Darwish: “3ud Ya Ma7mud”
Video of Dmar, female rappers from Nazareth, for Lammet Shamel project (family reunification of Palestinians within and beyond Israel)
Interview with Tamar Nafar of DAM
DAM: “Who’s the Terrorist?”

Safaa Hathoot’s music on MySpace


This essay explores hip hop produced by Palestinian youth within the 1948 borders of Israel, a site which 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 re-imagines the geography of the nation, linking the experiences of these “’48 Palestinians” to those in the West Bank, 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: i) the critique of official narratives and state policies that rupture Israeli mythologies of democracy and inclusion; ii) the rewriting of the ambiguity and alienation of being Palestinians from “’48”; and iii) the attempt to connect Palestinians “inside” and “outside.”

Sunaina Maira

Sunaina Maira is Professor of Asian American Studies at UC Davis and a founding organizer of the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI). She co-edited The Imperial University: Academic Repression and Scholarly Dissent. Maira is author of Jil [Generation] Oslo: Palestinian Hip Hop, Youth Culture and the Youth Movement and The 9/11 Generation: Youth, Rights, and Solidarity in the War on Terror, among other works.