Saturday, September 09, 2006

Life, Borders, and Identity

Last night I watched the 2004 film The Syrian Bride, as well as a brief interview with actress Hiam Abbass and some of the commentary track by director Eran Riklis. In addition to be a highly entertaining mix of comedy and drama, the film is an interesting look at how the political situation affects people's everyday lives in the Middle East, and how different communities, even while formally hostile, can live and work together as human beings without losing their principles.

One thing that struck me on a more scholarly level, however, were comments by Abbass and Riklis highlighting the importance of borders in the film. Historical borders serve as an important component of people's identity, yet the situation in the Golan Heights is unusual because the border is both disputed and creates a rupture within a community that could only be bridged through mediums like the "shouting hill." This touches on yet another aspect of questions of identity which I find one of the most fascinating aspects of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. There's also the interesting hint that questions of identity depend in part on internal borders, which I find a highly interesting metaphor.


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