Tracing Palestinian Literature: An Interview with Refqa Abu-Remaileh


  • Refqa Abu-Remaileh Freie Universität Berlin
  • Lindsey Waldenberg North Carolina State University



Interview, Palestine, Literature, Digital


In this interview, Dr. Refqa Abu-Remaileh discusses her new project, Country of Words: A Transnational Atlas for Palestinian Literature. Country of Words combines literary history, a rich and expansive set of primary sources, and digital humanities tools to trace Palestinian literature’s development in the twentieth century. Abu-Remaileh resists the de facto use of the predominant nation state framework to categorize Palestinian literature, an approach, she asserts, that is inadequate for conveying continuities between periods and literary geographies. Instead, Country of Words demonstrates the possibility of methodologies for studying the creation and dissemination of national and exilic literature beyond set physical and temporal borders. Her project primarily uses periodicals published throughout the Arab world and across the North and South American mahjars to demarcate Palestinian literature’s development into seven separate, though sometimes concurrent, periods. Coupled with the use of digital humanities tools, her project offers readers the opportunity to not only interact with a comprehensive overview of Palestinian local and global works but also consider the overlapping networks and trajectories that characterize and continue to shape this literature. This interview discusses the project’s inception, accomplishments, challenges, and impact.

Author Biographies

Refqa Abu-Remaileh, Freie Universität Berlin

Refqa Abu-Remaileh is Professor of Modern Arabic Literature and Film at the Freie Universität Berlin. She led the European Research Council project PalREAD (2018–2023). She is the author of the digital interactive book, Country of Words: A Transnational Atlas for Palestinian Literature, published by Stanford University Press. She also created the podcast “Balad min Kalam: Conversations on Palestinian Literature” available on Spotify and Apple Podcasts.

Lindsey Waldenberg, North Carolina State University

Lindsey Waldenberg is the managing editor for Mashriq & Mahjar: Journal of Middle East and North African Migration Studies. She is also Director of Research for the Khayrallah Center for Lebanese Diaspora Studies. 


Abu-Remaileh, Refqa. Country of Words: A Transnational Atlas for Palestinian Literature. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2023.