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Employing the Body in Resistance: Hunger Strikes by Palestinian Political Prisoners

Monday, April 12, 2021

11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Watch on Watson's YouTube channel

Watch on YouTube

This workshop is designed to give wider exposure to incoming Postdoctoral Research Associate in Palestine and Palestinian Studies Ashjan Ajour's work on Palestinian hunger striking. Although theoretically-informed literature on hunger strikes in Northern Ireland and Turkey exist, there is an absence of such literature about hunger strikes in Palestine and the study provides a first step towards filling this gap. By developing an in-depth account of the meanings, dynamics and experience of the Palestinian hunger strikes, it also offers a critical contribution to theories of subjectivity in terms of thinking through the weaponization of the body as a means of reclaiming dignity and humanity.

This panel will discuss how the body is employed in anti-colonial resistance and works as a site of subjectivity-production in hunger strikes to reconfigure the relationship between the colonial power and the resistant subject. The panel will also explore the question of whether hunger strikes are a violent or non–violent act and look at the techniques of resistance developed by Palestinian hunger strikers through the weaponization of the body. In particular it will explore how female bodies were transformed into sites of resistance, and explicate the way in which women constitute their political subjectivity in a coercive prison system through the practice of resistance.

Center for Middle East Studies


Beshara Doumani


Ashjan Ajour, incoming 2021 Brown University Research Associate in Palestinian and Palestine Studies, is a sociologist whose research focuses on gender studies, political subjectivity, and incarceration. For this event, she will be presenting some of her work-in-progress and introducing us to the broader research project she will be focusing on when at Brown. 


Nadje Al-Ali (around the topic of Women’s Political Subjectivity in the Embodied Resistance in Northern Ireland and Occupied Palestine).

Orisanmi Burton (around the topic of Weaponisation of the Body and Techniques of Resistance in Palestinian Hunger Strike).

Assistant professor in the department of anthropology,  American University, Washington, DC. As a social anthropologist working in the United States, his research examines the imbrication of grassroots resistance and state repression. Within this broad area of inquiry, his present work explores the collision of Black-led movements for social, political, and economic transformation with state infrastructures of militarized policing, surveillance, and imprisonment. He analyzes the productivity of this collision; how it gives rise to new formations of knowledge, subjectivity, intimacy, gender, organization, and statecraft across time and space. He asks: how do Black radical demands generated within and against U.S. prisons presage alternative futures for people and places on both sides of prison walls? In what ways have state-organized responses to these demands - via diverse configurations of repression, reform, and incorporation - been key drivers of US historical development and state formation? Through what bureaucratic, ideological, and material processes is this dynamic political struggle transformed into an administrative problem of “criminal justice”? How can conceptualizing the US prison as a domain of war open new analytical, theoretical, and methodological terrain?