Losing Homes and Making Homes: Reflections on Jean Said Makdisi’s Teta, Mother and Me

Document Type : Original Article


Department of English, Faculty of Arts, Cairo University


This study traces the experiences of losing homes and making homes, in Jean Said Makdisi’s book Teta, Mother and Me (2005). The paper takes the form of reflections on the book and its translation into Arabic, and is therefore divided into the following four sections. After introducing the text and author, the first section attempts to situate the text generically, suggesting that as a memoir it encompasses a generic fusion. The next section explores the connections between Palestinian national history and the individual experience of Teta, the author’s grandmother. In the third section, the paper explores the various homes made by the three women, with particular emphasis on the cultural dimensions related to domesticity and modernity in cultural and feminist terms. The last section focuses on the recently published Arabic translation of the memoir, and addresses its translation within the frameworks of feminist and collaborative translation. The paper concludes with a final reflection on the memoir in its cultural context as a product of history, memory, narration and the imagination, and points out its relevance today in the context of the war on Gaza and Palestine.