Ok, I want to say something about Nasser's mention of normalcy. I think there is the mixing of issues, a city trying to be normal is just a city trying to be normal, the 'project' is an extra thing. What is normal for a city under occupation? Who decides? Is Bethlehem more normal? Or is Nablus the normal city? I think a city trying to progress, to have its own space, own intellectuality, is a city in a normal situation, I think the Palestinian Authority allows for this somehow. But I think it's a normal thing to try to be normal, the article suggests it's a negative thing.
What I was trying to say is that, this quest for an uncritical normalcy, a normalcy associated exactly with the kind of everyday rhythms of a normal city is a disassociation from the reality. I actually tried to outline many of the positive things that are happening in Ramallah but this normalcy comes at such a high price. A very clear project is being fashioned in and through the city of Ramallah. Especially through the construction of subjectivities in Ramallah, the construction of identities, the construction of social divisions, of class [intervention by Yazid] but it's happening in Ramallah!
It's the institution not the place! The institution is what came and changed the place.
Is it the people who use normalcy which create this problematic, 'we just want to be normal', 'we just want to have normal lives'. What is normality in this case?
You're doing so much more than survival, such as sitting here right now.
I can't live anywhere else but Ramallah. Ramallah has always been a representation of my lifestyle.
I think that a lot of people, this new middle class, are trying to legitimise their own search for satisfaction, enjoyment, whatever, etc, as a kind of resistance activity. I don ‘t buy it. But I think that it’s exactly the colonial situation that forces people to justify their own lives to themselves. What am I doing?
This is clear. In fact, it’s how Ramallah wants to play it! This is the discourse, the cultural discourse. I am not saying this is all the domains but at least in the cultural life, how Ramallah wants really to be as a global city.
But many things went out of control. Even if, I wouldn’t call it conspiracy, but certainly Oslo-wise, a political project right, and obviously the whole point was to create a false consciousness and make people begin to feel like they are living in a normal society, and that was the whole idea. Ramallah has become a normal Arab city or like a city anywhere. Where you have very heterogeneous population, it wasn’t that way. You have growing polarisation, social polarisation, definitely. This also didn’t exist before in this sense. Cultural polarisation in the sense of dispositions, you know, consumption patterns
They were asking if participation in the party was a form of resistance! So what is our self-critique? How will we pay the taxes of what we are benefiting out of this?
Maybe a point is the definition of resistance. We always refer to the first intifada as a model, the only model, which can be a problem. Lisa's articles and also Nasser's article say there is a different form of resistance today. Then you didn't go to the cinema because you were resisting, now it's different. It's not only negative. We are also a part of that, we are also having a life. It would be stupid to have the same model as the first intifada for the sake of it. But it has to be said that the opposite is also stupid, when you are building your career on Palestine, on the tragedy of Palestine, and having a normal life. And honestly, everyone here even though they are under occupation, is enjoying his or her life to some level, so you can also resist and have a normal life. The Lebanese have always managed to balance resisting and also trying to enjoy life. I don't think it's completely wrong.
(extracts from conversations N. 1/Oct. 2008 and N. 2/Dec. 2008)