Old Arabs, new Arabs: debating Palestinian pedagogy during the mandate

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With the expansion of public education, Palestine under the British mandate witnessed the emergence of a local pedagogic discourse and the proliferation of pedagogic literature, led mainly by government employees. This study focuses on the biographies and pedagogic work of these Palestinian educators. Specifically, it analyses authorship of educators who were employed by the colonial Department of Education, a system that offered ambiguous objectives for the Arab population. It locates the new Arab, a knowledgeable, modern citizen of the world, yet one who is firmly tied to his national roots and cultural heritage, as the embodiment of the educational vision. Through textbooks, school journals and archival documents, the study shows the complex forms in which nationalism, authenticity and modernism were articulated in pedagogic literature. It argues that the acquisition of knowledge was perceived as the key for personal and collective emancipation, and investigates the mechanisms through which historical, geographic and religious knowledge were created, adapted and translated in order to serve this educational goal. Furthermore, it underlines the role of the Zionist settler colonial project in the construction of the new Arab’s image, therefore making Palestinian pedagogy a unique test case in the region’s scholarship on interwar education.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)257-273
Number of pages17
JournalMiddle Eastern Studies
Issue number2
StatePublished - 3 Mar 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019, © 2019 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Arabs
  • Palestine mandate
  • Zionism
  • colonialism
  • education
  • identity
  • nationalism
  • pedagogy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Sociology and Political Science


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