UMass Amherst’s Institute for Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies Hosts Palestinian Author Anton Shammas, Hebrew Scholar Hannan Hever

Anton Shammas
Anton Shammas
Hannan Hever
Hannan Hever

AMHERST, Mass. – The Institute for Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies (IHGMS) at the University of Massachusetts Amherst is hosting two public events featuring visiting international scholars Anton Shammas and Hannan Hever.

The two will take part in a seminar on Palestinian and Hebrew literature on Thursday, Oct. 4 from 4-6 p.m., and Shammas will present a keynote lecture on Friday, Oct. 5 from 4:30-6:30 p.m. to open a weekend workshop. Both events are in 601 Herter Hall.

In the Oct. 4 seminar, “Exploring Palestinian and Hebrew Literature,” participants will read two poems—one by Palestinian poet Muhammad Ali Taha and one by Israeli poet Yehuda Amichai—and discuss their significance within Palestinian and Hebrew literature. The seminar will be led by Shammas, Hever and Alon Confino, director of the Institute for Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies at UMass Amherst.

On Oct. 5, Shammas will deliver the keynote talk, “1948: To De-Nakbafy Sanat al-Iḥtilāl ‘Year of Occupation.’” In a series of personal reflections, he argues that, unlike a Nakbah, an occupation can, theoretically speaking, be undone. Iḥtilāl/occupation marks a concrete manner: de-Nakbafying 1948 and connecting it to 1967 means to cross the bar into Israeli consciousness and place Palestinians back into time and history.

The events are presented in conjunction with the workshop “1948 in Palestine and Israel: New Approaches and Interpretations,” hosted by IHGMS on Oct. 5-6. The workshop, featuring 16 international scholars, seeks to take stock of innovative recent research on the war, its origins, and consequences as well as to open new avenues of research and interpretation. The research on the history and memory of the 1948 war in Palestine and Israel and its origins has seen tremendous innovation in recent years. Scholars have applied more resolutely everyday-life history and cultural history to explore the experience of Jews and Palestinians during the war. One result has been to shift the perspective—from what happened during the war and debates over who did what to whom—to what Jews and Palestinians thought was happening before, during and after the war, and the political arrangements they imagined.

“These remarkable events at IHGMS linking Jewish, Israel and Palestine studies are a significant intellectual opportunity for the UMass Amherst community,” says Confino.

A professor of comparative literature and Middle East studies at the University of Michigan since 1997, Shammas is a Palestinian writer and translator of Arabic, Hebrew and English. His publications include a novel in Hebrew (translated into nine languages), two collections of poems and a book for children in Hebrew; a collection of poems in Arabic, and many articles, essays and translations in the three languages. He is currently working on a book manuscript “Blind Spots and other essays on translation.”

Hever is the Jacob and Hilda Blaustein Professor of Hebrew Language and Literature and comparative literature at Yale University and professor emeritus at Hebrew University. He is teaching at Yale in the comparative literature department and affiliated with the program of Judaic Studies. He has published extensively about modern Hebrew literature and culture and theory of literature and culture from political, post-national and post-colonial perspectives. Among his books are “With the Power of God, Political Theology in Modern Hebrew Literature” (2014), “Nativism, Zionism and Beyond: three Essays on Nativist Hebrew Poetry” (2014), “To Inherent the Land, To Conquer the Space: The Birth of Hebrew Poetry in Eretz Yisrael” (2015), and “Suddenly the Sight of War: Nationalism and Violence in the Hebrew Poetry of the 1940s” (2016). His most recent book is “We are Broken Rhymes, The Politics of Trauma in Israeli Literature” (2017).

Both events are co-sponsored by the university’s department of history, program in comparative literature and the department of Judaic and Near Eastern studies.

The Institute for Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies at UMass Amherst is a locus for research and teaching on the Holocaust, genocides and events of mass violence as well as on the memory and representation of these historical occurrences.