This conversation with Hana Sleiman begins a series of several around the Palestinian question(s). After evoking her archiving work of historical Arabic comic books and their construction of a political imaginary, Hana and I talk about this important construction of a Palestinian Oral History Archive at the American University of Beirut. This archive comprises about a thousand hours of interview with Palestinian having experienced the 1948 Nakba and its evictive violence. We particularly insist on the embraced subjectivities of such narratives, stressing that what is remembered and how it is remembered is more important than the illusory ambition of an objective history. We also evoke the quasi-contradictory essence of archiving a knowledge transmitted orally, and how to mitigate this problem. The methodology used by the archive and its importance in how it shapes history is also described by Hana throughout this conversation.
Hana Sleiman is an archivist and researcher based in Beirut, Lebanon. Her research interest lies in archive creation and appropriation in the Palestinian context. She is currently working as a Special Collections Librarian at the American University of Beirut Libraries. Her work focuses on book illustration and comic books in the Arab world, Arab intellectual history, and the Palestinian Oral history Archive. Sleiman received an MA from Columbia University’s Department of Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies in 2013.