Settler Colonial Violence, Palestine, and White Supremacy
RoundTable IX-6, 2023 Annual Meeting
On Saturday, November 4 at 3:00 pm
This roundtable will put three perspectives (of four scholars) in conversation with each to take up the interlocking logics and psychic significance of settler colonialism and white supremacy. More specifically, this roundtable will discuss the logic of systems of oppression in the Israeli and Canadian context as well as flesh out the centrality of Palestinian resistance in response to systems of enclosure. The participants will explore state settler colonialism violence through various approaches. The first perspective takes up how legal structures legitimize state violence. Particularly, we see how Muslim subjects become the object of law that authorizes white rule and civilizational discourses of the settler colonial state. The second perspective discusses how liberalism provides ideological cover for settler colonial state violence. We see how state projects of "tolerance," pink washing and green washing serve to cape or deflect from the violence done to unworthy objects, otherwise known as the indigenous people of Palestine. Finally, against the backdrop of the hegemony of settler colonial state violence, the roundtable will focus on what two presenters call the kernel of "Palestinian presence." In doing this, they will discuss how Palestinians, through resistance, counter these various forms of state, discursive, epistemological and psychic violence. Through this discussion, confluence of discourses of anti-Muslim racism and white supremacy emerge across settler colonial conditions. These liberal and legal discourses however, we are shown, are not coherent and are contradictory. Therefore, two presenters ask what does legal incoherence do to the indigenous subject? And how do contradictions within Zionist liberalism/liberal Zionism produce meaning for the ethnonationalist state? Against the backdrop of the discursive and legal mechanisms of dispossession in Canada and Palestine, two presenters (who are co-authors) answer by locating how Palestinian life or "livability" (as Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian states) exists in the seam of these settler colonial contradictions. In the wake of attempts at codifying whiteness that marks the settler colonial citizen, these presenters propose that the life of the racialized (whether First Nations of Canada or Palestinians) "instigates" settler colonial anxiety (Sharpley-Whiting) because it is that object of violence that cannot be erased or "eliminated." (Wolfe)
This presentation explores psychological expressions of self and collective assertion of sumud (stalwartness), as living practices under the matrix of military occupation, Apartheid, and settler colonial violence in Palestine. First, this presentation will unpack and examine a number of painful cases (from Jerusalem, Gaza and Ramullah) that speak to the politics of psychical and psychological asphyxiation imposed upon the Palestinian people. Against this, I hope to simultaneously highlight how Palestinians clinicians attend to how Palestinians, circumscribed by violence and death, operate internally and communally, within a psychic political-economy of life that defies being objectified as legible victim through human rights discourse. In this way, I hope to engage my partners at the roundtable in ways Palestinian clinical practice make meaning in "death zone" (as Shalhoub Kevorkian calls them) in forging Palestinian “livability. This practice of life and meaning making function tas various forms of sumud and a refusal to be metabolized by an apolitical and non-structural analysis or Zionist ideological negation. Through case examples and discussions with clinicians, I hope to offer material that outlines how clinicians provide “breathing room,” to make sense of individual and collective suffering. This material then will be put into motion and conversation with my roundtable partners whose work highlights the ways in which settler colonial systems create "disposable" bodies and negate Indigenous lives (whether in Canada or Palestine) in order to produce and naturalize national selfhood.
American politicians across the political spectrum have for years incanted the seemingly magic phrase “Jewish and democratic state” in order to express their support for what has always been an apartheid state even while denying that that is what it is. By repeating the mantra—exactly as Blinken did the other day—they deny the actuality of stark racial discrimination not simply by refusing (despite all the voluminous evidence to the contrary) to acknowledge that the state’s political-legal system is what it is, but to cover up that act of denial through the positive affirmation of democracy. Like a psychological sleight of hand, rather than dwelling on the negative, the act of denial (of apartheid) is transacted and made more compelling through the affirmation of the positive value (of democracy), which can be celebrated, as it so often is, with thoughtless ease. The Israeli state has, however, been discarding those forms of denial and mystification that had given it the cover of a supposedly liberal democracy and as a result helped to secure decades of unwavering support among liberals and leftists in Europe and above all the US. This shift began with the 2018 passage of the Jewish Nation-State Law, which, as one of the state’s quasi-constitutional Basic Laws, made formal and explicit many of the forms of racial discrimination against non-Jews that had hitherto been informal and implicit (as of 2017, 65 Israeli laws spelled out direct or indirect forms of discrimination against Palestinians). Doubling down, the recently installed government took power with a formal policy declaration that “the Jewish people have an exclusive and unquestionable right to all areas of the Land of Israel.” The latter is a Zionist expression referring to all of historical Palestine: that is, the pre-1967 Israeli state plus the occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza, across all of which the state exerts its power. If people of one ethnicity—or one racial group, to use the language of international law—constituting approximately half of those living in the territory in question have an exclusive claim to it, the other half of the population is, by definition, altogether rightless. This paper will explore the significance of these recent developments.
Global white supremacy is both new and old. Settler colonial projects in the Americas, New Zealand and Australia, for instance, are projects sustained by global networks as projects of racial accumulation where the objective was to wrest the land from Indigenous populations and to craft a national project that installed white settlers as the legitimate owners, entitled to all its bounty. Self-consciously racial from the start, settler societies have solidified rather than transcended their racial origins. So too in Europe, colonial projects organized from the start as projects of white Europeans against a racial Other confined to sub-humanity provided the material basis and infrastructure, including, importantly, legal infrastructure, for contemporary Europe. Following the figure of the Muslim in these arrangements enables us to see how the making of whiteness unfolds, the specific masculinities and femininities it requires, and the racial violence that cements it. What I propose in this article is that attention to the figure of the Muslim yields insight into how white supremacy is globally organized in the present moment, the infrastructure it requires to circulate, and the networks, affinities and ideas upon which it depends. I pay particular attention to the ways in which the figure of the Muslim illuminates what some have termed white fragility and others white rage, aggrievement or ressentiment. The white subject who imagines himself or herself as under siege from a number of forces but prominent among them the threat from racialized peoples is the figure I consider.
This presentation explores the ways in which psychoanalysis collaborates with systems of power, in this case, Zionist settler colonialism in Palestine, by creating, sustaining, and supporting dialogue initiatives and interventions that are misattuned to the violence that structures settler-colonialism and occupation. The talk will discuss how psychoanalytic “dialogue” initiatives are not neutral, but instead have an ideological investment in psychoanalytic innocence which functions in collusion with and as an extension of the asphyxiatory closure systems throughout Palestine. The presentation will define how psychoanalytic innocence is a practice of structural, ideological misattunement that involves affirming settler colonial realities and logics and pathologizes Palestinian will and desire for liberation and self-actualization, collectively and individually. The presentation will focus on both theoretical and applied clinical examples to draw out these positions.