Finding “Home” as a Palestinian-American: An Oral History Project of One Man’s Life Story
For immigrants and refugees, the concept of “home” is seldom a concrete definition, as the question of where “home” is - either in the country of origin or the new country, activates a tension in self-identity. For the Palestinian immigration and refugee experience, the longstanding Arab-Israeli Conflict produces an even more complex tension. The purpose of this study is to explore this tension in a Palestinian-American context. To do so, the research project focuses on an oral history project about Ibrahim Hamide, a restaurateur and human rights activist in Eugene for the past 40 years. The project involved taking participant observation notes prior to the series of interviews, conducting the interviews themselves, coding the interviews for common themes, and then analyzing the information with other works about the Palestinian/Arab American experience. The primary findings of this study indicate that in addition to the challenges of migration, Orientalism, a term by Edward Said that means the representation of the Middle East in a stereotyped and colonialist manner, has a major influence on the tension of self-identity. For Hamide, this tension leads him to find solace in a “universal identity,” where spirituality and the learning that takes place after enduring years of displacement and Orientalism (“ethic of cosmopolitan care”) are two key components. Rather than choosing between his two “homes,” he finds a sense of home in a universal realm. The significances of this research are that it sheds light onto post-trauma resilience and serves as documented piece of history for the Eugene community.