The Palestinian Intellectual and the Stakes of Modernity (1908-1948)


This research starts from the assumption that Palestine experienced a modernist intellectual project driven by Palestinian intellectuals, influenced by the ideas of the pioneers of the Arab renaissance (Nahda), and exposure to modern European cultures, either through foreign mission schools in Palestine, studies in European universities, or through translation. They set themselves a major goal which is to turn their society from tradition to modernity, so that it can win the “survival struggle” that was imposed on it.

Based on this assumption, the problematic of this research will revolve around the following question: What are the characteristics of this modernist intellectual project, or in other words, what are the stakes of modernity faced by the Palestinian intellectuals, who have emerged on the scene of events in Palestine since the late Ottoman era and during the British mandate, in the aftermath of the separation between science and religion, the emergence of modern education, the exposure to modern European ideas, the discovery of printing and the dissemination of the media?

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About the Author(s)

Maher Charif is head of the research unit at the Institute for Palestine Studies and an associate researcher at the French Institute for the Near East (IFPO) in Beirut. His works on the history of Palestinian political thought include: “A Search for an Entity: A Study in Palestinian Political Thought, 1908-1993" (1995), “A Century of Arab-Zionist Conflict - Prospects for Peace?” (2011), and “The History of the Palestinians and their National Movement” (with Issam Nassar, 2018).


Institute for Palestine Studies
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Language: Arabic
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