Middle East Studies

New Directions in Palestinian Studies | The Politics of Archives and the Practices of Memory

Friday, March 3 –
Saturday, March 4, 2017

Joukowsky Forum, Watson Institute

By invitation and registration. Closed workshop.

New Directions in Palestinian Studies (NDPS) provides a platform for rigorous intellectual exchange on new directions in research and writing about Palestine and the Palestinians, supports the work of emerging scholars, and promotes the integration Palestinian studies into the larger streams of critical intellectual inquiry. The first three workshops — “Political Economy and the Economy of Politics,” (March 2014), “Political Culture and the Culture of Politics,” (March 2015), and “Approaches to Palestinian Studies”— generated a great deal of discussion and led to numerous collaborations.

“The Politics of Archives and the Practices of Memory,” is the theme of the fourth annual meeting of NDPS, to be held March 3-4, 2017. The central question is: What does it mean for the colonized, the disenfranchised, and the displaced to produce narratives through archival and memorial practices? Other theoretical, empirical, and comparative questions follow. How are archives and memories produced, assembled, and mobilized in settler colonial contexts? In what ways are archives and memories sites of struggle and appropriation, and looting? How can we theorize archives and memory from perspectives critical of state-centric political configurations and conventional concepts of sovereignty?

An archive fever has been coursing through the Palestinian body politic for two decades now. What explains this phenomenon and how has it been shaped by the information technology revolution? How have artistic and social media interventions reconstructed the archival and the memorial as sites for research? In what ways can one analyze novels, poetry, and other forms of literature as forms of memory and archives without instrumentalizing these literary genres?

No other territory has received as much attention from institutions, individuals, and movements associated with the Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. How have the archives and memories they generated throughout the centuries shape our understandings of Palestine and the Palestinians? Also foundational is the absence of a Palestinian state archives? What are the political and intellectual stakes in working with state sanctioned Ottoman, Arabic, Hebrew, and English language archives? Could the absence of a Palestinian state archives be a liberating force rather than an obstacle to constructing emancipatory narratives? As a colonial encounter in a post-colonial world, the fate of Palestine and the Palestinians has long been internationalized. How have the archives of non-governmental and international organizations, such as the United Nations, shaped narratives about Palestine and the Palestinians?

Co-organizers for this year's event are Beshara Doumani, director Middle East Studies, and Areej Sabbagh-Khoury, Postdoctoral Research Associate in Palestinian Studies.

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