Trauma and the Palestinian Experience in Betty Shamieh’s The Black Eyed (2005)

Document Type : Original Article


           In recent times, there has been a significant surge of interest in the subject of  ‘trauma’, which has emerged as a central theme connecting various academic disciplines. Consequently, the psychoanalytic concept of trauma intersects with literature, literary theory, historiography and contemporary culture. The objective of this paper is to apply trauma theory to several historical female figures in Palestine who have endured different traumatic experiences resulting from violence, terrorism, political manipulation, and cultural myths, with a particular focus on Betty Shamieh's play The Black Eyed (2005). This study adopts an interdisciplinary approach that advocates for a more comprehensive conceptualization of trauma theory to better address feminist postcolonial perspectives on history, memory, and culture. In addition, it examines why trauma necessitates testimony and why testimony is one of the viable and vital responses to trauma. The Black Eyed sheds light on the oppression inflicted upon the Palestinian people throughout history, while also challenging prevalent cultural myths surrounding Arab-American women living in the United States, particularly in the aftermath of 9/11. Through the portrayal of complex female characters, Shamieh asserts their individual identities through their traumatic experiences.