Colonialism, Nationalism, and the Politics of Teaching History in Mandate Palestine

For Palestinian nationalists in Mandate Palestine, British education policy was a source of constant frustration. The shortage of schools, the lack of local control over the curriculum, and the marginalization and de-politicization of Palestinian history constituted major grievances. Proceedings from the Peel Commission reveal much about the rationale behind this policy, particularly the bias toward “rural” education and the attempts to control teachers. Drawing on and complementing the work of A.L. Tibawi, this article seeks to shed light on the nationalists’ protests by examining both the responses of officials brought before the Commission, as well as the government’s history curriculum during the Mandate. In doing so, the research shows that education policy was constructed to maintain the underdevelopment of Palestine and to hinder state-building efforts that could compete with those of the Zionists.

Author biography: 

Elizabeth Brownson is assistant professor of history at the University of Wisconsin, Parkside. Her dissertation, “Gender, Muslim Family Law, and Contesting Patriarchy in Mandate Palestine, 1925–1939,” demonstrates how Palestinian women could often gain benefits by maneuvering within a maleprivileged court system. She is currently in the process of revising her thesis for publication.

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