This article examines and problematizes the idea of return in the autobiography of Mourid Barghouti’s Ra’aytu Ram Allah (I Saw Ramallah
). After thirty years of living in Egypt and Budapest, Barghouti returned to his hometown Ramallah in 1996 for a short visit that composes the core of his text. I investigate how Barghouti’s text unveils the Palestinian exile as a permanent state, but also as a challenged, resisted, or accepted the process of shifting people and places over time. By re-examining this autobiography within the frame of reading it as a displaced text, (or “displaced autobiography”) I show how I Saw Ramallah
seeks to move beyond the state of exile and expose its aftermath, especially when the displaced person is back in his or her homeland. I also explore how the author’s return to his original place invokes the memory of a remote past, inviting a buried or forgotten selfhood. I argue that by recalling this past, which occurred before displacement, a displaced autobiographer like Barghouti attempts to “fix” Palestine as a land for the people who have memories and history in it.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited