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Palestinian oral history map launched

June 13, 2019 at 12:07 pm

A Palestinian man with a map of Palestine in Gaza city, 20 June 2013 [Mohammed Asad/Apaimages]

A ground-breaking Palestinian Oral History Map has been launched online, allowing users “to explore the testimonies based on the historic landmarks that they describe—from schools, hospitals and factories to rivers, valleys and mountains”.

The project is part of the Palestinian Oral History Archive (POHA) at the American University of Beirut, and has been six months in the works. POHA holds an archive of over 1,000 hours of interviews with Palestinians who lived through the Nakba.

According to a press release, “the project is a means to navigate the POHA oral history platform, which contains over one thousand hours of oral testimonies from Palestinians who lived through the Nakba, describing everyday life and culture in Palestine before 1948, as well as their experiences of displacement and exile.”

The interactive map allows users to listen to testimonies “in the context of detailed historic maps from the 1940s that Visualising Palestine helped to make available through Palestine Open Maps”.

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Palestine Open Maps is a project initiated by Visualizing Palestine, and also supported by the Bassel Khartabil Free Culture Fellowship, with the map layer compiled from over 200 map sheets at various scales produced by the British Mandate Survey of Palestine, mostly during the 1940s.

To make full use of this platform and the POHA interviews currently requires a knowledge of both English and Arabic, since the interviews themselves are only available in Arabic while the landmark names are only in English or transliterated Arabic.

According to the press release, new ways of making the maps more usable and shareable will be unveiled in the coming months.