Palestine online: an emerging virtual homeland?
Sophia Chloe Stamatopoulou-Robbins
Prompted by Palestinians’ recent occupation of cyberspace as a new terrain on which to conduct their struggle, this paper is an inquiry into the existence of a virtual Palestinian homeland online. It traces the initial process of inscription of the land of Palestine with the meaning of ‘homeland’ at the turn of the twentieth century, comparing that process with Palestinians’ online activities. Drawing on Walter Benjamin’s theory of storytelling (1936) and Pierre Nora’s concept of the distinction between lieux and milieu de memoire (1989), it assesses how Palestinians’ storytelling practices of ‘emplacement’ several generations before exile inform our understanding of Palestinian refugees’ storytelling in cyberspace today. It argues that, while insufficient to replace Palestinians’ original homeland or to satisfy their political aspirations, ‘virtual Palestine’ does exist and offers a window into visions of a future homeland as expressed by Palestinians not usually heard from.