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Old Men’s Truth: The ‘Poverty Generation’ of Neighborhood Men Talk about Life in Jerusalem’s Old City

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In this article, I consider local conditions in Palestine through a focus on generational issues and neighborhood relations. I exemplify this by joint experiences and self presentations of (male) lower-class residents of an Old City neighborhood in Jerusalem who experienced childhood and youth during the Jordanian rule of the city between 1948 and 1967. I argue that these ‘old men’ form a generational connection, a ‘generation unit’ in the sense of Karl Mannheim, which is determined by their similar age, but also by the same spatial connection and social class. Their pre-1967 experiences of poverty, cultural conservatism and a positive perception of neighborly community are in their presentation sharply contrasted to post-1967 experiences of an economic boom, rising social security, materialism and individualism. Both periods are constantly compared to the recent period in the Old City, a period which is perceived as experiencing a downward spiral due to a loss in communality, lack of education and the tightening of Israel’s occupation policy. Palestinians of this age and class have often been sidelined in research. This raises questions about the periodization of generations along political events and about the roles assigned to questions of domination and resistance.

Affiliations: 1: University of Göttingen, Germany Email:


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