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Falestin Naili Artas Virtual Scholar in Residence

Contributed by Artas Folklore Center on 30.03.2012:

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The Artas Folklore Center is proud to announce Falestin Naili, our new “Virtual Scholar in Residence.” Falestin Naili is a social historian and anthropologist associated with the Laboratoire de Recherche Historique Rhône-Alpes (LARHRA) in Lyons/ Grenoble, France. She is a specialist of the entangled history linking Europe, the Americas and the Middle East and is currently involved in research projects about the Ottoman municipality of Jerusalem, millenarist settlement and missionary projects in Palestine and Anatolia, and heritage preservation issues in Palestine and the Palestinian diaspora.

Falestin is a graduate of the University of Provence (Aix-Marseille I). Her Ph.D. dissertation (in French) is accessible on the Internet: Perhaps currently the most prolific scholar on Artas, Falestin will be an invaluable resource as we try to adapt the rich heritage of Artas to our various projects. The lines between history and folklore sometimes become quite blurred in Artas and while both are an equally important part of Artas’ heritage, sometimes one must be clear about which is which!

Several years ago, Falestin helped us compile a long list of selected scholarly works on Artas. To these we can now add her own, which take up quite a lot of space on the list.

Falestin became interested in Artas in 2000 when she met the founder of the Artas Folklore Center, the late Musa Sanad, to whom she dedicates her article, « L’œuvre de Hilma Granqvist : L’Orient imaginaire confronté à la réalité d’un village palestinien » (Revue d’Etudes Palestiniennes, no. 105, automne 2007, pp. 74-84)

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She went on to write her MA and Ph.D. theses on the history of Artas, completing her dissertation on the Collective Memory in Artas in 2007.

As fascinating as the past of Artas may be, she has not neglected today’s Artas and its people. She has conducted ethnographic field work among refugees from Artas living in Amman, for example.

Nothing seems to escape Falestin.

In fact, the Artas Folklore Center was surprised to chance upon one of her articles and to learn that it had itself become an object of scrutiny. In «Hilma Granqvist, Louise Baldensperger et la « tradition de rencontre »au village palestinien d’Artās » (Civilisations, Vol. LVII, No. 1-2, décembre 2008) she analyses “A Century and A Half of Women’s Encounters in Artas”, a short article written to attract women to an International Woman’s Day event in Artas as an example of how the Artas Folklore Center has used the memory of Hilma Granqvist and Louisa Baldensperger, two European women who lived in the village, “in a local “tradition of encounter” in order to attract tourists and international cooperation.

Much of Falestin’s work is in French, thus helping to make some of the vast body of research on Artas available to new readers, and thus generating new interest in the village.

However, one of the challenges of the Artas Folklore Center is that despite the huge body of work on the village, much of it is not accessible to the villagers themselves. Very few of the articles are in Arabic, making it difficult for ordinary Artas villagers to absorb the body of works written about them.

Furthermore, much of it is specialized or academic in nature and would still be difficult to access even with a good knowledge of the language. On the other hand, the villagers have a rich and evolving oral tradition and knowledge of their village which is not easily accessible to outsiders.

So the perception of the villagers of their heritage and that of outsiders relying mostly on written works, may be quite different. Falestin elaborates on this point in her Ph.d thesis, La Mémoire et L’Oublie a Artas : Un Element de l’Histoire Rurale de la Palestine, 1848-194. (

The challenge is to find a way to make the body of work written about them accessible to the villagers, so that they can make reference to it when presenting it to outsiders as well as communicating what only they. as repositories of the collective memory Falestin researched, can do.

As Falestin points out, selections will invariably be made. A first step would be to have the works of Hilma Grandqvist and others translated into Arabic. We hope Falestin will be able to facilitate this. Though scholarly, the books of Hilma Grandvist (See Recommended Reading and Selected Bibliography) are written with an immediacy and vividness that can be enjoyed by the interested general reader. Surely they will be of interest to the descendents of the villagers she studied from the cradle to the grave.

Innovative ways must be found to present the material to villagers who will serve as guides to visitors. Welcome back, Falestin!

Selected Publications of Falestin Naili

• « Hilma Granqvist, Louise Baldensperger et la « tradition de rencontre » au village palestinien d’Artas », Civilisations, vol. 57, no. 1-2, December 2008, pp. 127-138, online version :

•La Mémoire et L’Oublie a Artas : Un Element de l’Histoire Rurale de la Palestine, 1848-194. (

• « L’œuvre de Hilma Granqvist : L’Orient imaginaire confronté à la réalité d’un village palestinien », Revue d’Etudes Palestiniennes, no. 105, automne 2007, pp. 74-84, online version :

• « Memories of Home and Stories of Displacement: The Women of Artas and the “Peasant Past”», Journal of Palestine Studies, no. 152, été 2009, pp. 63-74, abstract available at:

• « Imaginaires et projets millénaristes en Palestine ottomane : l’exemple de la colonie euro-américaine dans la vallée d’Artas », Chrétiens et Sociétés no. 17, Spring 2011

online version:

• « The millenarist settlement in Artas and its support network in Britain and North America, 1845-1878 », Jerusalem Quarterly no. 45, Spring 2011, online version:

• « Introduction : Images hors cadre ? L’identité entre lieu et mémoire : Perspectives moyen-orientales et latino-américaines », Science and Video, Nr. 3, Spring 2011, online:

• « Henri Baldensperger : un missionnaire alsacien et le « vivre ensemble » en Palestine ottomane », Annuaire de la Société d’Histoire de la Hardt et du Ried, no. 23, October 2011

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