Home >People >Notable Palestinians >Sharif Kanaana, anthropologist and folklorist

users currently online: 18

arrow Home

arrow Your Personal Page
arrow People
Notable Palestinians
Life Stories
arrow Places & Regions
arrow History
arrow Culture

arrow Community Resources
arrow Photography - local
arrow Photography Diaspora
arrow Audio

arrow Our Partners
arrow About Us
arrow All Recent Entries
arrow Message Board
arrow Newsletter
arrow Newsletter Archive

arrow AEI-Open Windows

Notable Palestinians

sorted by

Showing 81 - 100 from 118 entries

> François Nicodeme, composer
> Yasmin Katamish, dancer
> Ibtisam Barakat: Writer, poet and educator
> Mrs Hind Husseini:
> Munib R. Masri, entrepreneur and minister
> Yousef Khasho, composer
> Husni Elias Haddad, musician, industrialist
> George Ibrahim: Theatre artist
> Fady Abu Sultan, tea seller in Gaza
> Sharif Kanaana, anthropologist and folklorist
> Hanna Giacaman, heritage keeper
> Edward Muallem: Theatre Pioneer, Actor, Trainer,...
> Musa Nasir: educator
> Musa Sanad and the Artas Folklore Center:Timeline...
> Hanna Safieh 1910-1979, photographer
> Sameeha Khalil, founder Inash al-Usra
> Mahmoud Darwish, poet
> Shereen Abu-Aqleh
> Hind Husseini
> Faisal Al-Husseini
page 5 from 6
Sharif Kanaana, anthropologist and folklorist
submitted by This Week In Palestine

Professor Sharif Kanaana is an anthropologist, folklorist, researcher, and educator of international renown. Throughout a career dedicated to researching issues relating to Palestinian society, heritage, and recent history, he has published some 20 books and 50 essays in scholarly publications and has presented approximately 50 papers at conferences around the world.

Professor Kanaana was born in 1936 in the village of Arrabeh, in the hills of the Galilee just north of Nazareth, in what was at the time still Palestine but is now Israel, to a family of five brothers and four sisters. A British army camp just outside Arrabeh was a constant reminder to the villagers that historic Palestine was at the time under British Mandate.

Kanaana was 12 years old when the 1948 Nakba (‘catastrophe’) war brought about the state of Israel and forced at least three quarters of a million Palestinians to flee their homes and become refugees. Two of his aunts and their families fled to southern Lebanon, never to be able to return home.

Kanaana presented his findings on the events surrounding the Palestinian exodus in a number of works, including the book Still on Vacation: The Eviction of Palestinians in 1948 (2000).

He also conducted extensive research on the Israeli destruction of Palestinian villages in 1948 and 1953. The research is presented in a series of monographs that detail the events surrounding the destruction of a number of these villages and life in each of these villages prior to annihilation.

The new Israeli state placed Kanaana’s beloved Galilee and other Arab areas under military rule. For eight years, the Palestinians in Israel suffered often-severe poverty, hunger, and restrictions on movement and economic activity, foreshadowing what the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip would have to face a few decades later.

After attending the village grade school, Kanaana set off with his brothers, Mahmoud and Hatim, to a high school in the city of Nazareth to become amongst the first from Arrabeh to receive a high school education.

Kanaana then began what was to become a long and passionate career in education, teaching at grade schools in neighbouring villages. But in 1961, he left for the United States. When Sharif returned to Arrabeh for the first time for a visit in 1969 with his wife Patricia, he became the first person in living memory to have returned home to Arrabeh from overseas and was given a hero’s welcome.

Professor Kanaana received his Bachelor’s degree in economics and psychology from Yankton College in South Dakota. He studied anthropology at the University of Hawaii in Honolulu and became the first person from Arrabeh to receive a PhD. He taught at the University of Hawaii in Honolulu and the University of Wisconsin in Oshkosh before returning home with his family-which included his three children Salwa, Tarik, and Abed-in time to personally witness another milestone in the long Palestinian struggle for life and freedom. In 1976, Palestinians in Israel demonstrated against the state’s confiscation of a large tract of land belonging to Arrabeh and two other villages, Sahknin and Deir Hanna. The Israeli army responded by killing six of its Palestinian citizens. The event has since been known as Land Day.

Since his return, Kanaana has taught or held administrative posts, including that of President of An-Najah University in Nablus and Chairman of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Birzeit University. He is currently full professor at the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Birzeit.

Professor Kanaana’s interest in Palestinian folklore had been growing for many years when it was cemented with the publication of the groundbreaking and internationally acclaimed Speak Bird, Speak Again: Palestinian Arab Folktales (1989, University of California Press, Berkeley), which he co-authored with Professor Ibrahim Muhawi. The work was the first of its scope to collect and provide scholarly analysis for Palestinian folktales. It has been translated into both Arabic and French and was the first work to bring Palestinian folklore to the attention of the international academic community.

The late Palestinian President Yasser Arafat awarded Professor Kanaana the Palestine Prize in 1999 for his "distinguished research in world folklore in general and Palestinian folklore in particular."

It was largely due to Kanaana’s efforts that UNESCO recognized, in 2005, the Palestinian Arab folktale as one of the "Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity."

Kanaana’s other books in the fields of folklore, anthropology, and recent history include Ed-Dar Dar Abuna (T’is Our Father’s House): Collected Papers in Palestinian Folklore (1992), Es-Shatat Al Falastini (Palestinian Diaspora, 1992), Folk Heritage of Palestine (1994), and Palestinian Political Humor (co-author, 2001).

His current research and writing focus on folklore, much of it contemporary and political. He is currently working on such subjects as Palestinian children’s folklore, folktales of Jerusalem, and legends of martyrs (‘karamat’) and is continuing his research and writing on Palestinian political humour.

He also edits Society and Heritage, a quarterly periodical for social sciences and folklore published by the Society of Inash al-Usra in al-Bireh, Palestine.

He lives with his wife Patricia, a teacher of English as a foreign language at Birzeit University. They are now grandparents to two little boys, Omar and Tarik.

This Week in Palestine
December 2006

email to a friend print view