Transnational Palestine: Migration and the Right of Return before 1948

Nadim Bawalsa

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Tens of thousands of Palestinians migrated to the Americas in the final decades of the nineteenth century and early decades of the twentieth. By 1936, an estimated 40,000 Palestinians lived outside geographic Palestine. Transnational Palestine is the first book to explore the history of Palestinian immigration to Latin America, the struggles Palestinian migrants faced to secure Palestinian citizenship in the interwar period, and the ways in which these challenges contributed to the formation of a Palestinian diaspora and to the emergence of Palestinian national consciousness. Nadim Bawalsa considers the migrants' strategies for economic success in the diaspora, for preserving their heritage, and for resisting British mandate legislation, including citizenship rejections meted out to thousands of Palestinian migrants. They did this in newspapers, social and cultural clubs and associations, political organizations and committees, and in hundreds of petitions and pleas delivered to local and international governing bodies demanding justice for Palestinian migrants barred from Palestinian citizenship. As this book shows, Palestinian political consciousness developed as a thoroughly transnational process in the first half of the twentieth century—and the first articulation of a Palestinian right of return emerged well before 1948.


"A significant contribution to the history of Palestinian transnational activism. Anchoring his story in the lives of Palestinians in Latin America, Nadim Bawalsa amplifies the diasporic dimension of the 'right of return.' A must read for scholar-activists of the modern Middle East, inter-war politics, and national liberation struggles."―Sarah M.A. Gualtieri, author of Arab Routes: Pathways to Syrian California

Transnational Palestine is an extensive and original investigation into the lives of early Palestinian migrants in Latin America. Nadim Bawalsa has an uncanny ability to evoke from submerged archival sources and diaspora presses the adventures and tribulations of those pioneering travelers."―Salim Tamari, author of The Great War and the Remaking of Palestine

"Bawalsa succeeds in widening the reader's temporal and geographical horizons when thinking about the right of return, and in doing so, he helps us to better understand the Palestinians history of dispossession."―Marc Martorell Junyent, 

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