Past Event

The Struggle to Return to Palestine before 1948

December 6, 2022
10:30 AM - 12:30 PM
Event time is displayed in your time zone.
Columbia Global Centers | Amman

The Palestinian struggle to return to Palestine began well before 1948. In this talk, Nadim Bawalsa charts the history of Palestinian migration to Latin America, which began in the late 19th century. Using previously unexamined primary source documents from archives in Jerusalem, London, and Santiago de Chile, Bawalsa shows how British authorities deliberately denied thousands of Palestinian migrants their right to return to Palestine as citizens throughout Britain’s 30-year occupation. He also shows how these migrants mobilized across the diaspora and drafted thousands of petitions and newspaper articles to protest this injustice.

Bawalsa asks: What does this mean for Palestinians’ collective consciousness, and the way we comprehend the history of our dispossession and exile, whether a century ago, in 1948, 1967, or today? Is the right of return still worth fighting for?


Nadim Bawalsa is a historian of modern Palestine. He has published in journals including the Jerusalem Quarterly, the Journal of Palestine StudiesNACLA Report on the Americas, and in two edited volumes on the Middle East Mandates and Middle Eastern diasporas. He earned a joint doctorate in History and Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies from New York University in 2017, and a Master’s in Arab Studies from Georgetown University’s Center for Contemporary Arab Studies in 2010. Bawalsa works as the Commissioning Editor at Al-Shabaka: The Palestinian Policy Network.