Palestinians in Latin America: Between Assimilation and Long-Distance Nationalism
Latin America is host to an estimated half-million people of Palestinian descent, the largest such population outside the Arab world. Migration to the region began in the late 1800s and peaked between 1900 and 1930, with surges around periods of war or economic crisis in Palestine. Predominantly the descendants of a pre-Nakba generation, mostly middle to upper-class Christians who are well-represented among political and business elites, Palestinians in Latin America do not easily fit into a national narrative shaped by the refugee experience. They have therefore held little interest for Palestinian historiography since they did not meet the criteria of “Palestinian-ness” as defined by a nationalist discourse centered on dispossession, denial, and statelessness. With a special focus on Chile, this article presents a historical overview of the Palestinian émigré community in Latin America, shedding light on its diverse and dynamic identity politics.
Cecilia Baeza received her PhD in political science at the Paris Institute of Political Science. She is co-founder of RIMAAL, a research network on Latin America and the Arab world, and is currently a lecturer in international relations at the Getulio Vargas Foundation in São Paulo, Brazil.