After the Jordanian Civil War in 1970—which saw the Jordanian army defeat Palestinian guerrillas, the death of thousands of Palestinians living in Jordan and the exile of Palestinian political organizations and leaders from refugee camps—Palestinians in Jordan became politically and socially marginalized. Despite these marginalizations, Palestinians in Jordan always had access to sport. This thesis will examine how the football club, al-Wehdat, plays a role in creating and establishing identity and nationalism for Palestinians in Jordan. By using oral history, I move beyond the narrative of a homogenous Palestinian identity and demonstrate the complexities of Palestinian identities. Moreover, utilizing oral history in my thesis challenges the notion of football being cathartic, and demonstrates how al-Wehdat fans are able to: A) manoeuvre within the stadium, despite being under constant surveillance, B) to continue to use al-Wehdat as a political platform, predominantly through their chants, and C) to develop Palestinian identity and nationalism in Jordan.
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Thesis advisor: Sedra, Paul
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