Claiming Identities in Palestine: Migration and Nationality under the Mandate

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In the decades just prior to the end of World War I, residents of the Ottoman Empire's provinces alternated with ease between a variety of personal identities and affiliations. Overlapping imperial, supranational, and localized identities could all be claimed with flexibility by Arab travelers and migrants in the region and in the wider diaspora. Arab, and later Jewish, inhabitants of Palestine conceived of nationality as a choice based on personal understandings of identity that were not necessarily tied to domicile in a particular territory. This article traces the demise of such a notion of nationality, and its practical repercussions after 1918, showing how Palestine's emigrants and immigrants did not immediately understand or reimagine themselves as part of the more rigid nationality system imposed by the British Mandate. Analyzing regional migration into and out of Palestine during the interwar period, the study seeks to explain the ways in which a system of flexible national affiliation transformed into a rigid system of nationality based on domicile.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)26-43
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Palestine Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2017


  • Palestine Mandate
  • citizenship
  • nationality
  • emigrants
  • mahjar
  • passports
  • Jewish immigrants


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