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The Invention of Palestinian Citizenship, 1918-1947

Lauren Banko

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Explores the colonial, social and political history of the creation of citizenship in mandate Palestine

In the two decades after the First World War, nationality and citizenship in Palestine became less like abstract concepts for the Arab population and more like meaningful statuses integrated into political, social and civil life and as markers of civic identity in a changing society. This book situates the evolution of citizenship at the centre of state formation under the quasi-colonial mandate administration in Palestine. It emphasises the ways in which British officials crafted citizenship to be separate from nationality based on prior colonial legislation elsewhere, a view of the territory as divided communally, and the need to offer Jewish immigrants the easiest path to acquisition of Palestinian citizenship in order to uphold the mandate’s policy. In parallel, the book examines the reactions of the Arab population to their new status. It argues that the Arabs relied heavily on their pre-war experience as nationals of the Ottoman Empire to negotiate the definitions and meanings of mandate citizenship.

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1. Introduction
2. Inventing the national and the citizen in Palestine: Great Britain, sovereignty, and the legislative context, 1918-1925
3. The notion of ‘rights’ and the practices of nationality from the Palestinian Arab perspective, 1918-1925
4. The diaspora and the meanings of Palestinian citizenship, 1925-1931
5. Institutionalizing citizenship: creating distinctions between Arab and Jewish Palestinian citizens, 1926-1934
6. Whose rights to citizenship? Expression and variations of Palestinian Mandate citizenship, 1926-1935
7. The Palestine Revolt and stalled citizenship
8. The end of the experiment: discourses on citizenship at the close of the Mandate

About the Author

Lauren Banko is a Research Associate in Israel-Palestine Studies within the Arabic and Middle Eastern Studies department at the University of Manchester. She received her PhD in History in 2014 from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, and her MA in History from the University of Louisville. She has previously taught at SOAS and Royal Holloway, University of London.


'A valuable and descriptively illuminating historical study. It advances our understanding of the legal and political construction of citizenship in the British Mandate.'
- Nimer Sultany, SOAS, Journal of Palestine Studies

‘A fascinating account of the origins of citizenship in Palestine against a tumultuous background of a declining empire (Ottoman), a transforming empire (British) and an incipient state (Israel). It makes an original and major contribution to our understanding of post-imperial and post-colonial citizenship and sheds a significant light on periods of political and legal transition.’

- Engin Isin, Politics and International Studies (POLIS), The Open University

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