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Narrating Trauma in the Middle East – A New Psychological Landscape?


  • Ieanah Veronica Svensson

Summary, in English

This is a study of contemporary feature films and short films presenting personal and collective traumas originating in Levantine Middle Eastern conflicts – in Israel, Lebanon, Palestine and Syria. Just after the millennium there were significant shifts in these societies and consequently in their cinemas. A number of films received both international attention and awards. This essay seeks to investigate how this wave of films may function as ideological comments through their narratives and ‘psychologization’ of characters, and through emotional responses evoked in the audience.
The text initially frames a vocabulary of trauma, then continues with a contextualized presentation of trauma cinema, a discussion ‘national myths’ and national traumas, and a brief chapter on to how ‘cinematic ethics’ are formed through audiences’ emotional responses and how these can be influenced. The analysis concentrates on how the films relate to the national myths, (i.e. the dominant discourses) of each respective nation in order to evaluate their political stance in relation to the status quo, and where these societies are at in their collective trauma processes. The discussion also delineates national tendencies in these cinemas, and examines whether there is anything like a common language shared between them that transcends the national.


Publishing year




Document type

Student publication for Bachelor's degree


  • Cultural Sciences


  • film
  • cinema
  • Middle East
  • Middle Eastern
  • trauma
  • trauma culture
  • trauma film
  • Israel
  • Israeli Lebanon
  • Lebanese
  • Palestine
  • Palestinian
  • Syria
  • Syrian
  • perpetrator cinema
  • myth
  • ethics
  • dominant discourse
  • war
  • conflict
  • anti-war
  • character engagement
  • emotional response
  • vicarious trauma
  • empathy
  • sympathy
  • allegiance
  • moral
  • semiotics


  • Åsa Bergström (PhD-student)