With the growth of Palestinian original cultural productions and independent performance venues in Haifa, its residents have dubbed it the “Palestinian cultural capital in Israel.” An important cosmopolitan center prior to the loss of its majority Palestinian population in 1948, how have Haifa's Palestinian residents today revived the city and claimed this ambitious new title? What factors have enabled this development to take place specifically in Haifa? And, what can it tell us about Palestinians’ imagination of national space under Israel's dominance? In this article, I address these questions and argue that the appearance of a new generation of a Palestinian urban middle class and the regression of Haifa's centrality in Israeli geopolitics have allowed educated and affluent Palestinians to (re)create a decidedly Palestinian civic sphere through cultural activities. I further argue that this imagining of Haifa demonstrates the ways cultural production can assert belonging to the Palestinian nation.
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Only two years later, after a handful of productions for children and adults, the partnership with Beit Hagefen came into question, leading to an internal split within the troupe, engendering its exit from Beit Hagefen. Most of the actors condemned Beit Hagefen’s administration for rejecting original nationalist-themed productions in favor of depoliticized Egyptian and translated foreign plays. In 1973 part of the troupe established the independent Al-Hurr (The Free) Theatre. However, this endeavor produced only one original play, Zaghroudat al-Ard (The Land’s Ululation), concerned with political questions about land and family ties, dissolving after one year due to financial difficulties. The other part of Al-Masrah al-Nahed continued under the management of an independent committee, receiving some basic funding from the Haifa municipality and the Israeli Ministry of Culture and Education. This attempt lasted four years; in 1977, it also disbanded for financial reasons (Shlewet 2002).
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ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Urban Studies