Online teaching resources on ‘the untold story of the Palestinian Revolution’

30 January 2017

New teaching resources at explore the history of the Palestinian Revolution and are freely available on an open access website launched by Oxford University’s Department of Politics and International Relations. The website is an outcome of a British Academy-sponsored project, ‘Teaching Contemporary Palestinian Political History’, to build teaching resources and capabilities. It focuses on the subject of the Palestinian national liberation movement and its revolution in the 50s, 60s and 70s and has been developed for those who wish to use it. It makes available primary resources and first-hand accounts collected from those who participated and lived through the period. The ‘teach’ elements of the site organise historical material in a structured way, and can be used for independent learning purposes, or to supplement relevant Higher Education courses.

Original contemporary sources include over 80 oral history interviews with Palestinians who relate their own experiences and explain their own participation in the revolution. The web platform is available in both Arabic and English, and charts some of the key events from the ‘Nakba’ (Palestine War) of 1948 to the siege of Beirut in 1982. It explores some of the political and social realities of the Palestinian people at the time: revolutionary culture, the formation of a national representative institution (the Palestine Liberation Organisation), and the roles played by trade unions, women’s associations, and grass-roots movements. It also charts the role of international solidarity for the Palestinians, including the support of international institutions such as the United Nations. The online resource contains primary sources and writings from the period, videos, photographs, songs, posters, as well as excerpts from revolutionary publications and other materials.

The web platform is the culmination of a five-year research project funded by the British Academy. The project was a collaboration involving scores of academics, archivists, universities and institutions including Palestine and the Middle East, South Africa, and Cuba.

The project is led by Professor Karma Nabulsi, Fellow and Tutor in Politics at St Edmund Hall, Director of Undergraduate Studies at the Department of Politics and International Relations, and Associate Professor at the University of Oxford. She authored, curated, and edited the digital resource with Professor Abdel Razzaq Takriti, a scholar of modern Arab history at the University of Houston. The themes were developed over several years through workshops with leading Palestinian and South African historians, librarians, and archivists from Oxford, the UK, as well as universities and institutes in Palestine, Lebanon, South Africa, France, and the United States.

Their work was guided by institutes specialising in resistance and anti-colonial histories of the period, including the Museum of the Cuban Revolution and the Institute for Historical Research in Havana, and the South Africa Democracy and Education Trust which has produced its own multi-volume collective work on their decades-long struggle for freedom.

Dr Nabulsi comments: ‘There are few if any teaching materials looking at the story of the Palestinians from their viewpoint during this important anti-colonial era. We started pretty much from a blank page. Of course, the website does not set out to be a comprehensive historical record of the Palestinian liberation movement during that period, but instead introduces some of the key themes from the missing vantage point of the Palestinian people themselves, and the international context.

‘This project gathered hundreds of hours of interviews, so that voices traditionally unheard in academic studies of decolonisation can be listened to. It is the first time many of them have spoken about their memories of this period. They recall politically important debates and discussions of that time, providing fresh insights for researchers, students and others with an interest in the period.’

For more information, contact the University of Oxford News Office on +44 (0)1865 280534 or email:

Notes for Editors:

  • To see the website, entitled ‘The Palestinian Revolution’, go to 
  • Karma Nabulsi is Associate Professor in Politics and International Relations, and Fellow in Politics, St Edmund Hall. Her research includes 18th century political thought, 19th century republicanism and the construction of democratic republics, the laws of war, and the politics of Palestinian refugees, representation, and democracy. 
  • The website is the result of a British Academy sponsored research project ‘Teaching Contemporary Palestinian Political History: Setting a Collaborative Research Agenda and Building Capacity’. It was initiated under the BA’s UK-Middle East Capacity Sharing Partnership scheme. The programme is the result of extensive collaboration between Oxford and universities in the Arab world, including scholars from the occupied Palestinian territories and Lebanon, working at An-Najah (Nablus), Birzeit (Ramallah) the Lebanese University and other institutions (Beirut), as well as scholarly institutes in South Africa and Cuba. The project aims to build teaching and research capacities in the field of political history.
  • The website is hosted by the Department of Politics and International Relations (DPIR), Oxford University and co-authored, curated, and edited by Professor Karma Nabulsi, Oxford and Professor Abdel Razzaq Takriti, Arab-American Educational Foundation Chair in Modern Arab History at the University of Houston. 
  • The project has received support in its development from a range of contributors, and is affiliated with a number of institutions and universities worldwide concerned with research and teaching in this area: the Centre for Palestine Studies at SOAS (University of London), the European Centre for Palestine Studies at Exeter University, the Arab-American Educational Foundation Chair at the University of Houston, the Historical Institute at Havana, the Centre for Education and Transformation (CERT) at the Faculty of Education of the University of Johannesburg; Bir Zeit University, An-Najah University, the Abu Jihad Centre at Al-Quds University, all in Palestine; and the Library of the Institute of Palestine Studies, in Beirut, Lebanon.
  • The University of Oxford is a world-leading centre for the study of the Middle East and renowned for the quality and diversity of its research. It hosts a number of country-specific research roles and projects that include scholarship and academic programmes on the following countries: Iran [the Iran Heritage Foundation Research Fellow]; Morocco [Fellow in Moroccan and Mediterranean Studies]; The Sudan [the Sudanese programme]; Israel [Stanley Lewis Professorship of Israel Studies and Research Lecturer/Sidney Brichto Fellow in Israel Studies]; Turkey [Faculty Fellow and University Lecturer in Turkish], among many others. 
    Oxford’s Department of Politics and International Relations seeks to deepen scholarly understanding of government, politics and international relations and to contribute to practical solutions to problems of power, conflict and injustice in political and social life. The department hosts a range of research centres, networks and programmes which set agendas and attract interest from researchers across the world.
    The School of Interdisciplinary Area Studies (SIAS) demonstrates the University of Oxford’s commitment to the importance of interdisciplinary social science work in area studies. Oxford’s School of Interdisciplinary Area Studies (SIAS) boasts the largest community of Area Studies scholars anywhere with research and teaching programmes dedicated to the Middle East, Africa, Latin America, South Asia, China, Israel, Japan, Russia and Eastern Europe. The School offers nine Master's degrees and welcomes students from all around the globe. SIAS is devoted to research and graduate teaching in academic disciplines which attempt to understand the complexity and the inter-relatedness of society through anthropology, economics, politics, history, sociology and culture.
    The Middle East Centre at St Antony’s College has existed for more than 50 years as a centre for the interdisciplinary study of the modern Middle East.
    The University’s Faculty of Oriental Studies has a multidisciplinary approach to studying this part of the world, offering both undergraduate and postgraduate courses. The Faculty is also teaching and carrying out research into the material culture of the Middle East at its Khalili Research Centre.