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Boulos, Taroob (2023) Breaking the Silence: Pain, Torture, Resistance and Bearing Witness in the writings of Palestinian Prisoners of War and Administrative Detainees (1967 2004). PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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This thesis explores theoretical approaches underpinning prison writing with a focus on the writings of Palestinian prisoners of war and administrative detainees who mainly spent many years in incarceration and who started writing in the wake of their imprisonment. Many Arab and foreign literary critics find similarities in prison writings’ form and content and common formal defects. The question is what these recurrent themes, textual and writing techniques are and, most importantly, why they are frequent in prison accounts. Are prison writings “identical” within the same prison system or globally, and do they focus only on prison experiences as their central theme? What are the environmental circumstances and the prisoner-writer state of mind at the time of writing, and how do they affect the process, context, and form of the writing? Finally, why do they write in the first place, and what kind of readers are needed to make the victims’ voices heard? Although the Israeli Zionist Settler Colonial Regime (IZSCR) has been incarcerating a large percentage of Palestinians since 1967, Palestinian prison/trauma writings have not notably received much attention. Thus, I address this neglected area of texts written by Palestinian prisoners of war to help bring public awareness to writings that rarely receive notice or appear in venues with limited circulation. This thesis examines three types of prison writings: fiction, personal and collective testimonies written mainly in prison and embraced by the Palestinian prisoners’ movement that rose soon after 1967 and rapidly declined after the second Intifada in 2000. I study these three categories of prison writings via the Palestinian context and experience, the larger theories of trauma, pain, violence, torture, and resistance literature. This thesis attempts to redefine the prison literature genre in the Arab World and presents a new approach to reading prison writings in general.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses
Supervisors Name: Marle Hammond, Yair Wallach and Ruba Salih
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 15 May 2023 14:44

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