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Whose Narratives & Why Commemorate? From Kanafani to Said, (Do We have) Permission to Narrate?
This paper is grounded in the conceptual and pedagogical framework of Teaching Palestine: Pedagogical Praxis and the Indivisibility of Justice (TP), focusing in particular on the centrality of commemorations to people’s anti-colonial movements, and the utility of comparing and contrasting them with each other and with watershed moments in other anti-colonial struggles for freedom, justice and liberation. Placing anniversaries in the same intellectual imaginary, paying special attention to each in its particular focus, and bringing them into conversations with each other, along with the present historico-political moment produce a critical contextualized and historicized analyses of settler colonialism, defying Zionist designs to erase Palestinian Indigeneity and challenges the delegitimization of what Palestine came to symbolize – a signifier of resistance and the indivisibility of justice. I will analyze two vignettes to illustrate my argument/connections. The first brings into conversation the activism and symbolism of the late Palestinian professor Edward Said, whose November 1st birthday coincides with the two overlapping professional meetings of MESA and American Studies Association on November 2-5, 2023 with Ghassan Kanafani, an organic intellectual who was assassinated 50 years ago this past July by the Israeli Mossad, a major anniversary of Teaching Palestine in 2022. I want to imagine a conversation in which I will compare and contrast the roles, theories, political roles and situated knowledge of these two Palestinian intellectuals and how they framed Palestine in their work. The second discusses the resonance of the current massacres in Nablus and Jenin, comparing and contrasting with those that occurred during the recent history of the Aqsa Intifada and the bit more distant history of the Balfour Declaration on November 2, 1917. In the process, my paper will offer a critical analysis of the overlapping routes and connections of transnational geographical and epistemological border crossing (or blocking) in framing Palestinian and other narratives of resistance.
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