Skip to main content


  • Nisreen Mazzawi (a1) and Amalia Sa'ar (a2)

This article documents the ḥawākīr of Nazareth. Once widespread in the city, these traditional domestic gardens were integral to households of all economic backgrounds. They served as a space for work and socializing, constituted a center of collective (extended family) life, and provided a wide diversity of crops. However, in recent decades ḥawākīr have disappeared rapidly as new houses were built overtop them and residents’ tastes changed. Today people prefer gardens with green lawns and flowers. Intended strictly for recreation and ornament, this new kind of garden acts as a marker of privacy and economic success. We use ethnographic data to provide detailed descriptions of historical and contemporary examples of the traditional garden. The analysis dwells on the resonances between changing practices around and meanings of ḥawākīr and the changing character of the urban landscape, on the value of ḥawākīr as sites of attachment and identity, and on the potential of their revival to generate urban sustainability.

Hide All


1 We draw on ethnographic research conducted by Nisreen Mazzawi in 2013 and 2014, which included participant observation, informal conversations, semistructured interviews, and a systematic follow-up of local pages on social media.

2 Khawalde, Sliman and Rabinowitz, Dan, “Race from the Bottom of the Tribe that Never Was: Segmentary Narratives amongst the Ghawarna of Galilee,” Journal of Anthropological Research 58 (2002): 225–43; Benstein, Jermey, Place and the Other – The Place of the Other: Contested Narratives in Environmental Activism among Jews and Palestinians in Israel (PhD thesis, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 2004); Hussein Tarabeah, Raseem Khamaisi, and Deborah Shmueli, “Creating a Socially Adaptive Model for Managing and Resolving Environmental Conflicts in Divided Societies: Galilee (in Israel) Conflicts as Demonstration Sites” (paper delivered at the 18th annual conference of the International Association for Conflict Management, Seville, Spain, 2005); Avsar, Yasar, Tarabeah, Hussein, Kimchie, Shlomo, and Ozturk, Izzet, “Rehabilitation by Constructed Wetlands of Available Wastewater Treatment Plant in Sakhnin,” Ecological Engineering 29 (2007): 2732; Tarabeah, Hussein, Nihul ve-Ishuv Konfliktim Svivatiyim be-Havarot Shesuʾot (PhD thesis, University of Haifa, 2008); Alatout, Samer, “Towards a Bio-Territorial Conception of Power: Territory, Population, and Environmental Narratives in Palestine and Israel,” Political Geography 25 (2006): 601–21; Alatout, , “Bringing Abundance into Environmental Politics: Constructing a Zionist Network of Water Abundance, Immigration, and Colonization,” Social Studies of Science 39 (2009): 363–94; Fischer, Michael, “Changing Palestine–Israel Ecologies: Narratives of Water, Land, Conflict, and Political Economy, Then and Now, and Life to Come,” Cultural Politics 2 (2006): 159–92; McKee, Emily, Socializing Landscapes, Naturalizing Conflict: Environmental Discourses and Land Conflict in the Negev Region of Israel (PhD diss., Yale University, 2011); Khamaisi, Rassem and Shmueli, Deborah F., “Shaping a Culturally Sensitive Planning Strategy Mitigating the Impact of Israel's Proposed Transnational Highway on Arab Communities,” Journal of Planning Education and Research 21 (2001): 127–40.

3 Benstein, Place and the Other; Tarabeah, Nihul ve-Ishuv Konfliktim; Nisreen Mazzawi, Mahtsevot – Nihul ve-Mediniyut Briʾut be-Yisraʾel 2009 (report for the Galilee Society for Health Research and Services, Shefa Amr, Israel, 2010).

4 Mikhail, Alan, “Global Implication of the Middle Eastern Environment,” History Compass 9 (2011): 952–70.

5 Benstein, Place and the Other.

6 Hasan, Manar, Smuyot min ha-Ayin: ha-ʿIr ve-ha-Anashim ha-Falstiniyot (Jerusalem: ha-Kibutz ha-Meʾuhad, 2018).

7 Khmaisi, Rassem, Merhav Natseret (Jerusalem: Floersheimer Institute for Policy Studies, 2003).

8 Jabareen, Yosef, “‘The Right to the City’ Revisited: Assessing Urban Rights—The case of Arab Cities in Israel,” Habitat International 41 (2014): 135–41.

9 Khmaisi, Rassem, Tichnun ve-Shikun be-kerev ha-ʿAravim be-Yisraʾel (Tel Aviv: International Institute for Peace in the Middle East, 1990).

10 Khamaisi, Merhav Natseret.

11 Abu-Lughod, Janet, “The Islamic City – Historic Myth, Islamic Essence, and Contemporary Relevance,” International Journal of Middle East Studies 19 (1987): 155–76.

12 Mansur, Asad, Taʾrikh al-Nasira (Cairo: al-Hilal, 1924); Emmett, Chadd, Beyond The Basilica: Christian and Muslims in Nazareth (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995).

13 Granott, Abraham, Agrarian Reform and the Record of Israel (London: Eyre and Spottiswoode, 1956).

14 Khamaisi, Rasem, “Land and Ownership as a Determinant in the Formation of Residential Areas in Arab Localities,” Geoforum 26 (1995): 211–24.

15 Granott, Agrarian Reform; Kedar, Alexander Sandy, “On the Legal Geography of Ethnocratic Settler States: Notes Towards a Research Aagenda,” in Law and Geography: Current Legal Issues Volume 5, ed. Holder, Jane and Harrison, Carolyn (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002), 401–42.

16 Falah, Ghazi, “Israeli ‘Judaization’ Policy in Galilee and Its Impact on Local Arab Urbanization,” Political Geography Quarterly 8 (1989): 229–53; Falah, , “Land Fragmentation and Spatial Control in the Nazareth Metropolitan Area,” The Professional Geographer 44 (1992): 3044; Yiftachel, Oren and Rumley, Dennis, “On the Impact of Israel's Judaization Policy in the Galille,” Political Geography Quarterly 10 (1991): 286–96; Kamaisi, “Land and Ownership.”

17 Falah, “Land Fragmentation and Spatial Control.”

18 Shlomo Ilan, “ha-Tarbut ha-Haklaʾit ha-ʿAravit ha-Masortit” (Master's thesis, Hebrew University, 1974); Nadan, The Palestinian Peasant Economy.

19 Falah, Ghazi, “Welfare Geography of a Peripheralized National Minority: The Case of Israel's Arab Population,” Urban Geography 20 (1999): 417–37.

20 Mustafa Natur, interview with Nisreen Mazzawi, Nazareth, December 2014.

21 All the names in English are based on Arnon, Yitshak et al., ha-Hay ve-ha-Tsomeh shel Erets Yisraʾel: Entsiklopidiyah Shimushit Meʾuyeret (Tel Aviv: Misrad ha-Bitahon – ha-Hotsaʾah li-Or, 1994).

22 All information from interviews came from those the first author conducted in 2013 and 2014 in Nazareth.

23 Fawzi Shliyan, Hiraf al-Ajdad wa-Sinaʿat kadat Tandathir (self published, 2007)

24 Fawzi Shliyan, interview with Nisreen Mazzawi, Nazareth, February 2013.

25 Maʿluf, Luis, al-Munjid fi al-Lugha wa-l-Adab (Yafa: Dar al-Thaqafa al-ʿArabiyya li-l-Nashr, 1908).

26 ʿArraf, Shukri, al-Qariya al-ʿArabiyya: Mabna wa-Istiʿmalat Arad (Jerusalem: Arab Studies Society, 1985).

27 Rabinowitz, Dan, Overlooking Nazareth: The Ethnography of Exclusion in Galilee (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997).

28 For expansion, see Abu-Lughod, “The Islamic City.”

29 1868 map of Nazareth drawn by Titus Tobler of Germany; 1914 map by Asad Mansur. Both reproduced in Emmett, Beyond the Basilica.

30 Pappe, Ilan, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine (London: Oneworld Publications, 2006). For more on this pattern in refugee camps in Lebanon, see Sayigh, Rosemary, Palestinians: From Peasants to Revolutionaries (London: Zed Books, 1979).

31 Mustafa Natur, interview with Nisreen Mazzawi, Nazareth, December 2014.

32 For example, see Malinowski, Bronislaw, Coral Gardens and Their Magic: Soil-Tilling and Agricultural Rites in the Trobrians Islands (Bloomington, Ind.: Indiana University Press, 1965).

33 Conan, Michel, “From Vernacular Gardens to a Social Anthropology of Gardening,” in Perspective on Garden Histories – D.O. Colloquium on the History of Landscape Architecture, ed. Michel, Conan (Washington D.C.: D.O. Library and Collection, 1999).

34 Spirn, Anne Whiston, “The Poetics of City and Nature: Towards a New Aesthetic for Urban Design,” Landscape Journal 7 (1988): 108–26; Bhatti, Mark, “‘When I'm in the Garden I Can Create My Own Paradise’: Home and Gardens in Later Life,” The Sociological Review 54 (2006): 318–41.

35 Mark Francis, and Hester, Randolph T. Jr., The Meaning of Gardens: Idea, Place, and Action (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1990); Bhatti and Church, “Cultivating Natures.”

36 Bhatti, Mark, “The Meaning of Gardens in an Age of Risk,” in Ideal Homes? Social Change and the Experience of Home, ed. Tony, Chapman and Jenny, Hockey (London: Routledge, 1999), 183–99.

37 Hasan, Smuyot min ha-Ayin.

38 Bhatti, Mark and Church, Andrew, “Cultivating Natures: Homes and Gardens in Late Modernity,” Sociology 35 (2001): 365–83.

39 Hitchings, Russell, “People, Plants and Performance: On Actor Network Theory and the Material Pleasures of the Private Garden,” Social & Cultural Geography 4 (2003): 99114.

40 Archambault, Julie Soleil, “Taking Love Seriously in Human–Plant Relations in Mozanbique: Toward an Anthropology of Affective Encounters,” Cultural Anthropology 31 (2016): 244–71.

41 Gilbert, Oliver L., The Flowering of the Cities: The Natural Flora of “Urban Commons” (Peterborough, UK: English Nature, 1992).

42 Weller, Robert P., Discovering Nature: Globalization and Environmental Culture in China and Taiwan (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006).

43 Benstein, Place and the Other.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

International Journal of Middle East Studies
  • ISSN: 0020-7438
  • EISSN: 1471-6380
  • URL: /core/journals/international-journal-of-middle-east-studies
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed