A slice of Teaching Palestine: Pedagogical Praxis and the Indivisibility of Justice, this deliberately-eclectic panel troubles intellectual constructions of historical moments of settler colonialism projects in Palestine; crossing disciplines/fields of study (history; information studies; critical race/ethnic Studies; women/gender/sexuality studies; and ethnography); specifically engaging two area studies whose professional associations (ASA and MESA) are simultaneously convening in Montreal; and attempting what might seem to be an impossible conversation on the study of distant/closer past and present narrations and pedagogical approaches, as has been demonstrated lately at the American Historical Association. Originally intended as a one-day intergenerational open classroom/institute bringing together graduate students/junior/senior scholars and Living Archives, this intellectual space represents an experimental college of what a critical pedagogical praxis might look like. We appeal to the MESA program committee to support our unorthodox approaches that we expect to be tantalizing and sizzling. Starting with the Crusades’ battles for Jerusalem and Nablus, focusing on 1948 Nakba and 1967 Naksa and 1960s/1970s resistance to conventional education accounts, and critically arguing for the potential of a pedagogy (of the oppressed) praxis that radically transforms the academy if it were not for successful intervention of neoliberal academic political-economy that rolled back the 1960s achievements. Panelists will draw on the short lived Experimental College at SFSU during the 1968-69 longest US student strike led by the Back Student Union and the Third World Liberation Front, Ocean Hill-Brownsville Black-Brown parents' fight for community control and Zionist intervention to undermine this grassroots struggle through false accusations of Zionism that resonate with current day well funded attacks by Israel lobby groups, white supremacist Christian-Zionists and complicit neoliberal university administrations.
Alternative research methodologies (resistance archives, living archives, and counter hegemonic narratives) combined with insistence on the legitimacy of teaching Palestine, critical race theory and justice-centered pedagogical and advocacy will be proposed and debated.
Finally, as per Teaching Palestine commitment to commemorations and honoring organic intellectuals erased from hegemonic history, the panel will connect (though not linearly) the heritage of resistance culture from Ghassan Kanafani to Edward Said, whose birthday (November 1, 1935) falls on the eve of MESA and ASA conferences. The conferences also convene on the 116th anniversary of the Balfour declaration and the 16th anniversary of the inauguration of SFSU Palestinian Cultural Mural honoring Edward Said–an occasion to connect the past with the present, comparative repression and resistance Studies, home and homeland, and justice-centered knowledge production.
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.
What does it mean to mark the Nakba today? How do archival traces from the Nakba frame and guide us? How can we better harness them in resisting the ongoing Nakba and working towards Al-Awda? This paper considers the politics of memorializing the Nakba based on my experience archiving the personal papers of the Arab Nationalist and historian par excellence, Dr. Constantine Zuyark, who is credited with coining the term. As a Library & Archival Fellow in 2015 and at irregular intervals since, I helped arrange and describe the Dr. Zurayk collection housed at the AUB’s Jafet Library. Situated within the archival & information science fields, this paper forms an integral part of a decades-long cross-disciplinary inquiry into the complex dynamics between settler colonialism, apartheid state formations, decolonization and archives in national settings and global arenas from Canada, France, Algeria and Palestine to UNESCO, the Arab League and International Council on Archives (ICA). Grounded in anticolonial feminist methods of refusal, it draws on multilingual records and documents from the AUB collection and UNESCO’s central archives in Paris, alongside a close reading of numerous books written by Zurayk in Arabic. Accordingly, the paper introduces new information about Zurayk’s activities in the 1950s and 1960s at UNESCO while exploring his theorizing of two moments of Arab political crisis, the 1948 Nakba (a term he coined) and the 1967 Naksa. It highlights his influential interventions on Arab historicity, identity and heritage, which emphasize dynamism, change and solidarity as a counter to ahistorical tropes of oriental despotism and primordial sectarianism. Against this background, it outlines the ethical and practical difficulties I faced applying dominant professional cataloging standards and methods, like the ICA’s ISAD(G): General International Standard Archival Description, to capture the resistant geohistories and liberatory potential of the Zurayk collection. In the process, it speaks to some of the conundrums and challenges inherent to any attempt to represent records of Arab nationalist and Third World movements from a present marked by the seeming failure of Arabism and Third Worldism. Situating the Zurayk collection as part of a larger counter archive, of arsheef al- muquwama (Arabic: resistance archive), this paper demonstrates the power of Nakba narratives to speak back to Zionist archives and historiography.
This paper is an auto-ethnographic reflection of my collaboration with and participation in AMED (Arab Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas) Open Classrooms conceptualized and organized by Dr. Rabab Abdulhadi and what it means to centralize the movement to defend AMED studies for (East) Asian/American redress/reparation/justice movements, including Zainichi Korean and “Comfort Women” Justice movements, in which I as scholar-activist have been involved over a decade prior to my collaboration with AMED Studies. The paper highlights how AMED Open classrooms, which offer a critical space for justice-centered and community accountable knowledge production, reinvigorate radical anti-colonial, queer, and feminist third-world coalition building since the 1960s and 70s, in our collective struggles against the transnational complex of imperial and ethno-nationalist states, including US, Israel, and Japan, and their attempts to institutionalize their imperial historical denialism at neoliberal/imperial universities and other institutions for knowledge production.
What’s the historical resonance of a momentous challenge to dominant structures of power in both academic arenas and social movements? How do we create alternative decolonial educational and political practice? Highlighting the spirit of 1968 (e.g. 1968 SFSU student strike and elsewhere nationwide such as Ocean-Hill Brownsville struggle for decolonial/relevant education; international ‘68 from Paris to Tunisia), this paper will focus on the early decades of the 1960's when social movements created an atmosphere of urgency and change, challenging government and traditional entrenched power holders and legitimizing social movements as the driving force for political and social change, and qualitatively solidifying our notion of freedom, empowerment and social justice. Popular power expressed in long-forgotten and marginalized ideas became popularized and embraced by millions within Indigenous, Black, Latino/a and Asian communities of the US; Crisis of liberalism in the North and throughout the world. The anticolonial framework of the 1960s internationalist struggles –from Vietnam to Palestine; Cuban and Chinese Revolution–intersected with central debates in Black Struggle, Civil Rights, Black Power, and Southern Freedom Campaign; the crisis of liberalism in the North; and the rise of neoliberalism corporate universities. Finally my intervention will touch upon my own experiences in the Free Angela Davis Campaign, support for the Attica Prison uprising, and Palestinian militants, such as Leila Khaled.
This paper is meant to be part of Dr. Rabab Abdulhadi's panel submission, Teaching Palestine.
History can be a resource in struggles for liberation when approached through a pedagogy for the oppressed. This paper aims to explore Crusader era history of Palestine, 1099-1291 CE through the prism of the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem as a settler colonial enterprise and resistance to it. It will examine episodes contained in both Latin and Arabic chronicles of the period that recount forms of local resistance to Frankish rule. One example is resistance in Nablus to the ban on Friday congregational prayers that led to Hanbali `ulama retreating to villages in the outskirts of the city for clandestine sermons and organizing appeals for aid in Damascus. The paper will also examine dominant narratives in Western academic scholarship, particularly Israeli crusade historians, to identify ways in which counter-histories can and could be developed as a resource intellectually against a settler colonial historiography. It will begin with a record of a debate in the 1960’s about whether the Latin Kingdoms of Jerusalem were comparable to colonialism, discussions in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s about “rethinking the crusades” against identifying them as a form of colonialism, and contemporary scholarship on popular Muslim reactions to the Franks in the Levant.