Pensioners, Orphans, and Widows versus Banks: Palestinian Financial History
Palestine Mandate
bank accounts

This essay attempts to rectify the silence about the willful expropriation, by British and Israeli forces, of private Palestinian financial assets. Placing at its core the stories of ordinary Palestinians, it explores how they were robbed of their bank accounts, bonds, stocks, pensions, salaries, and safety deposit boxes during the creation and termination of the Palestine Mandate (in both 1917 and 1948). The essay argues that the basic financial structure of colonization, which deprives the colonized of the protection of sovereign banking institutions, facilitated these thefts. It also argues that the supposedly neutral rules of finance acted as a fig leaf to such dispossessions. Based on archival research and oral histories, it presents a new social history of finance that centers the experiences and subjectivities of non-elite Palestinians who strove to defend themselves and assert their rights, individually and collectively, during pivotal moments of violent upheaval and rupture.

Author biography: 

Sreemati Mitter is the Kutayba al-Ghanim Assistant Professor of Middle Eastern History and International and Public Affairs at Brown University. Her work examines the economic and financial dimensions of statelessness.

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