Sophia Stamatopoulou-Robbins, an assistant professor of anthropology at Bard College, is the author of Waste Siege: The Life of Infrastructure in Palestine (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2020), which won the Albert Hourani Book Award from the Middle East Studies Association in 2020. Tessa Farmer talked to her about her research, the book and her next project.
The colonial vision of terra nullius—unoccupied or empty land—is the epistemological basis of any settler colonial project. A vision of land as empty or null drives the dehumanization of indigenous communities and the violent elimination of existing land claims. A great deal of scholarly attention has been focused on the nullius piece of terra nullis. But what happens when the terra does not behave?
Palestine is heading into a disastrous recession brought on by the coronavirus pandemic’s paralysis of economic life combined with structural factors specific to the Palestinian economy. Colin Powers explains why the Palestinian Authority is unable to generate the necessary level of revenue to support its citizens, including the pernicious role of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and the PA’s misguided choice to hand economic management to Palestinian business elites.
While people around the world are under lockdown, Palestinian workers in Israel continue to labor in the now accelerated construction sector. While Israel’s project of control and expansion exploits their labor, Palestinians are put at greater risk without proper testing, accommodations or healthcare.
The Trump administration’s “Deal of the Century” for peace between Israel and Palestine is being compared to South African apartheid. Palestinians are questioning the usefulness of this analogy.
Peteet’s main theoretical contribution is to show how the violent territorial expansion of Israeli settler-colonialism has developed mobility regimes that govern and restrict Palestinian movement through space.
The devastating human and health consequences of intervention by deprivation are noted in Ron Smith’s account of Israel’s decade-long siege of Gaza, whose dynamics are similar to the catastrophic sanctions regime imposed by the United States on Iraq after the 1991 Gulf War and the siege warfare utilized by the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen.
Sami Tayeb examines how a multitude of privately financed urban development projects in the Israeli-Occupied West Bank are creating a form of colonization that parallels that of Israel. Unlike Israel’s settler-colonial urbanism, however, this form of urban colonization is driven by global, and particularly neoliberal, capitalism, as it consumes Palestine’s remaining agrarian land at an unprecedented rate.
Lisa Bhungalia Jeannette Greven and Tahani Mustafa argue that the Trump administration’s maximum pressure campaign against the Palestinians—which gives Israel free reign to violently dispossess Palestinians while simultaneously withdrawing US aid for food, schools and hospitals—has both worsened Palestinian lives and has had the unintended consequence of weakening some levers of influence the United States holds over Palestinians.
At Birzeit University in the Israeli occupied West Bank, students and faculty are fundamentally remaking the dominant paradigm of Israel Studies as it has been configured in the United States with its proud “advocacy” mandate on behalf of the Israeli state. Birzeit’s program turns this paradigm inside out.
The attack on UNWRA is part of a full-spectrum assault on the Palestinian people’s rights and capacity to engage in politics undertaken by the Trump administration since entering office in 2016. While the President’s son-in-law Jared Kushner is reportedly developing a Middle East peace plan, dubbed the “deal of the century,” the administration has been preempting negotiations by imposing “resolutions” to final status issues such as Jerusalem and weaponizing financial aid to coerce the Palestinians into compliance with the US and Israel’s demands.
By forging a regional alliance aimed at confronting Iran and its allies, the new coalition of the US, Israel and allied Sunni Arab regimes intend to relegate the Palestinian issue to collateral damage in order to succeed.
In early 2016, nearly 35,000 Palestinian teachers initiated a series of strike actions across the West Bank. Classes were dismissed and students sent home as teachers marched through Ramallah’s streets and organized sit-ins in front of Ministry of Education field offices. What was behind the strike?
The Palestine Marathon, like its counterparts elsewhere, is meant to be a feel-good event. But it also has a political point: to highlight restrictions on movement for all Palestinians under Israeli occupation.
Palestinian adherents of what is known as the peace process never quite entertained the illusion that the United States is a neutral arbiter, let alone honest broker in matters Israeli-Palestinian. Rather, they allowed themselves to believe that, precisely on account of its close relationship and therefore influence over Israel, Washington would be an effective mediator and as such serve as the midwife of Palestinian statehood. It was on this basis that Palestinians embraced the framework of exclusive American sponsorship of bilateral Israel-Palestinian negotiations divorced from the existing international consensus, devoid of a clear timeline or agenda, and lacking effective arbitration or meaningful enforcement mechanisms.
Jerusalem has been the focus of an increasing number of academic publications in the past several years. Most of these publications focus mainly on the city’s history, identity and changing architectural features since Israel occupied its eastern section after the June 1967 War. Few serious attempts have been made to discuss the human aspect of the city’s united, yet divided, population and even less attention has been paid to US policies toward the city.
In the spring of 2016, a small group of academics at the University of Cambridge put a motion before Regent House, the governing body of the university, to hold a discussion on the Prevent program—the British government’s counter-radicalization scheme. The scene during the discussion was palpably grim, with scholar after scholar imploring the university to refuse implementation of a program that had already spread across most public institutions and universities in the country.