Department of History

Julia Gettle

Ph.D. Student
Research Interests Social, political, and intellectual history of the modern Middle East; political and social movements; oral history; authoritarianism and security states; histories of incarceration; displacement; Arab nationalism; the Arab Left


"My dissertation, 'Political Life in the Shadow Years: Arab Nationalists and Popular Mobilization in the Eastern Mediterranean, 1948-1975,' is a history from below of the post-1948 stage of the Palestinian national movement and the rise and fall of political Arab nationalism. The study shifts the narrative focus from state actors and traumatic events to explore the lived experience of political organizing in mid-20th century Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine, and Syria. Through a series of social biographies of activists affiliated with the Arab Nationalists’ Movement (the Pan-Arabist precursor of the Palestinian national movement’s leftist wing and much of the Arab New Left), 'Political Life in the Shadow Years' sheds new light on the importance of core elements of daily life to popular political mobilization. I argue that two such elements were particularly critical: first, preexisting social structures and practices such as family ties or local customs; and second, state and popular institutions such as schools, presses, or sports clubs. The home, the club, and the classroom were not only quotidian social spaces, but also political spaces where students joined banned groups, young activists furtively printed leaflets, and refugee elders rallied their old village networks to strike."