Cartographic Contestations in Mapping Palestine

Document Type : Original Article


Department of English Language and Literature, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, The British University in Egypt


This paper presents an interdisciplinary exploration of the representation of Palestine through the lens of critical cartography and literature examining how literary works, like Ghassan Kanafani's Returning to Haifa (1969/2000), Elias Khoury's Gate of the Sun (1998/2006) and Radwa Ashour's The Woman from Tantoura (2010/2014), engage with the idea of mapping and demarcation. Scholars have argued that maps do not merely reflect reality, but actively construct and reproduce particular spatial imaginaries that serve the interests of dominant political actors. Thus, this paper highlights the role of literature on Palestine in challenging Zionist propaganda maps, the state of ‘cartographic hypnosis,’ and in articulating narrative maps of protest and resistance. By adopting an interdisciplinary approach, this paper offers a nuanced understanding of the complex relationship between the visual and written representation of Palestine. As such, this study aims to answer two main questions: How far can Israeli cartographic practices be considered propaganda maps? How do literary works representing Palestine engage with mapping, borders, and territorial demarcation to challenge dominant narratives and articulate the counter-narratives of protest and resistance?