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?