Oral Presentation Session - Invited Status Awarded
Invited by: Middle East Section
Of interest to: Practicing and Applied Anthropologists, Students
Primary Theme: Resistance
Secondary Theme: Resilience
Following the first Intifada in 1987 researchers on Palestine became increasingly interested in the politics and ethics of sumoud, a term whose field of translatability into English includes: ‘resistance’, ‘resilience’, ‘perseverance,’ and ‘steadfastness’. While the focus on sumoud took a hiatus during the Oslo era (1994-1999) it then re-appeared with the onset of the second intifada in 2000 and has persisted in the literature to this day. Indeed, when taken as a whole, the contemporary anthropology of the West Bank and Gaza tends to represent Palestinian life as if it is almost synonymous with sumoud.
Works engaging the concept of sumoud have identified it with the multitude ways that Palestinians confront the presence of the Israeli state in their lives. It can mean everyday practices such as persistently contesting borders and boundaries, crossing checkpoints, attending school, building, collective memory and even acts of leisure and recreation. Other work identify sumoud with active political agency, including militarized resistance, civil disobedience, and projects calling for global solidarity.
This panel aims to critically appraise the concept of sumoud in ethnographic inquiry on Palestine and Palestinians. What are the limits and possibilities that the concept provides? How might it foreclose critical inquiry of the way that romanticism continues to adhere to contemporary readings of resistance and/or being? This panel is an invitation to think about the contradictions, conundrums, and possibilities of a political imagination in a reality that arguably witnesses “tragedy's triumph” in Palestine.
Papers can be about the following: how we can critically rethink sumoud as an actual practice both past and present within Palestine and the diaspora? Or as a contested signifier that has enabled various resistant practices and ways of being, while at other times being appropriated by a range of hegemonic projects (NGOs, neoliberal state-building). What does Palestine, as a research site, offer in conversation with literature on decolonization, settler-colonialism, military occupation, sovereignty, or revolutions?