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Doctoral Project

"Female anthropologists in the Arab world: European Orientalism and Palestinian culture in the field notes of Hilma Granqvist (1890-1972)"
Rosanna Sirignano (M.A.)

Between 1925 and 1931, the Swedish speaking Finnish anthropologist Hilma Granqvist (1890-1972) carried out a field research in the West Bank village of Artas, producing five monographs, which have a unique place in social anthropology of Muslim societies. After Granqvist´s death the Palestine Exploration Fund (PEF) acquired all the material resulting from her research, including a vast amount of women´s accounts, proverbs, folk songs and tales written in Colloquial Arabic. Considering that no Palestinian village has many of its stories recorded in written form, the recovery of the Arabic texts of Granqvist’s participants narratives represent a direct testimony of fellaḥīn (peasants) women in the thirties, a unique record of Palestinian history and culture during the British Mandate. While most researchers use Granqvist´s works as reference, nobody has yet ventured in studying how language, ethnography, translations and political contexts have shaped the production of those texts – a truly transcultural process. The aim of my research is to analyse Granqvist´s work with special attention to its transcultural character. I will analyse the factors which shaped her vision of Palestine such as being a Swedish in Finland academy, her relation with the European Orientalist discourse and the transcultural collaboration during her field work. In order to achieve my goal I will analyse her unpublished field notes in Arabic and compare them to her English translation. Finally I will highlight the importance of her work for the formation of Palestinian identity in current state of tension between Israel\Palestine.