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> African community
> The African Community in Jerusalem
> The Samaritans in Palestine
> Nablus: The City of Strong Women
> The Heart of Nablus: Nine Thousand Years and More …
> Bus Number 23
> Jericho: Oasis Town
> Sweet Memories of a Winter Gone
> Warming Up in Jericho
> Hebron: Heritage of Palestine
> The Bread Oven (Tabun)
> The Courtyard (hosh) in the Palestinian Village Home
> The Façade of the Palestinian Village House
> The Transformations in the Palestinian Village Home
> The Village
> Friends School, Ramallah
The visitor to a Palestinian village today is struck by the sharp contrast between old and new. At the centre of the village are clusters blending naturally with the rolling hills surrounding them. Scattered around this old village core are large, individual houses, recently built from smoothly-cut limestone blocks. These modern structures are cluttered by showy multifaceted walls built in a haphazard order, their flat roofs often crowned by television antennae resembling the Eiffel Tower, symbols of new affluence. Neither the building style nor the 'aesthetics' of these new houses reflect any clear link with the past.
This incongruity in physical appearance and organization of the modern Palestinian village is due to the social and economic transformations which have greatly affected Palestinian village settlement patterns and daily life since the late nineteenth century. These transformations have come about as a result of the following factors:
(a) The shift in land tenure from communal to private land ownership, begun by the Ottomans in the late nineteenth century, and implemented more thoroughly under the British.
(b) Wage labor, which has drawn increasingly numbers of villagers away from agriculture. During the British Mandate period, many highland villagers sought employment as laborers in the citrus industry in the coastal plain, or as British Government employees in schools and the police force. The 1950s witnessed another wave of labor migration towards the Arab Gulf and the two Americas.
These factors contributed towards the marginalization of agriculture, the fragmentation of extended family landholdings, and the trend towards the nucleation of the family. The accumulation of wealth from wage labor also contributed to the great changes which took place in the material aspects of traditional villages' life. These changes are manifested most prominently in building and construction, where new materials, building techniques and spatial formations are responses to individual needs rather than to the social and spatial rules that formerly determined the shape of traditional Palestinian homes.
Source: The Palestinian Villages Home for Suad Amiry and Vera Tamari.