Palestine under occupation


I’ve been struggling with the flu, and even more with Netanyahu’s bilious reaction to the UN Settlements Resolution and John Kerry‘s statement of the obvious about the illegal Israeli colonisation of the West Bank.  (If you want the background, then Eyal Weizman‘s Hollow Land is the place to start, while the Foundation for Middle East Peace is an indispensable resource for tracking the colonisation process up to 2014).

So I was pleased to receive this notice of a research workshop at Queen Mary, University of London on 26 May 2017:

Palestine under occupation: the legitimation of violence and the violence of legitimation

We invite proposals for papers to be presented at this one-day research workshop hosted by the School of Politics and International Relations at Queen Mary, University of London. The workshop will consist of a series of panels during the day followed by a public lecture.

This workshop considers the connection between violence and legitimation in the maintenance of the occupation of Palestine. The Israeli colonisation of Palestine demands an interrogation of the techniques, strategies, and discourses through which this violent state of affairs is legitimated, especially as it takes on more extreme forms such as the recent wars in Gaza. This workshop seeks firstly to bring together existing scholarship which has examined the legitimation of Israeli state violence through practices such as law, human rights, ethics, visual representations, narrative, memory, and history. However, it also seeks to examine these issues alongside other questions surrounding the legitimation and de-legitimation of Palestinian actors, agendas, and political strategies, particularly in the wake of recent high profile attempts to restrict international solidarity activism. The conference asks whether and how these contemporary struggles over legitimacy and violence are related, and what their interrogation might reveal about each other.

The workshop’s departure point is a critical analysis of the order surrounding the legitimation of violence, asking how global ethics, international law, racial hierarchies, gender domination, economic exchange and state-making practices have shaped the permissible use of violence, as well as the possible strategies for resisting this violence. For example, has the statelessness of Palestinian resistance meant a lack of access not only to technological ‘advanced’ forms of warfare, but also the inability to claim the legitimate authority of state-wielded violence? Have orders of acceptable violence led to the reproduction of Israeli state violence? And has the circulation of Israel’s strategies of legitimation abroad also served to strengthen the legitimisation of its use of violence in Palestine?

The workshop also seeks to raise more fundamental questions about the political and analytic categories of legitimation and violence themselves. These questions prompt us to consider not only how practices of legitimation directly facilitate violence, but also how this very interaction modifies existing understandings of legitimacy and illegitimacy, violence and non-violence. At what point do legitimation and de-legitimation, insofar as they structure the field of domination of some actors over others, not only depend on violence but also become violent practices in and of themselves? These concerns echo some of those articulated in Walter Benjamin’s critique of violence and Foucault’s historico-political analysis of war. But they also push the categories of these inquiries further through consideration of the relationship of legitimacy and violence in a colonial setting in which statehood remains a highly contested political field.

Proposals may wish to address one or more of the questions below:

Through what strategies has Israel sought to legitimate the violence of its occupation of Palestine, and how have these been resisted?
What forms has the struggle for political legitimacy in Palestine taken, and what has been the corresponding role of attempts at de-legitimisation?
How are struggles over legitimacy and violence in Palestine related, and how does this affect our understanding of the meaning and instantiation of these concepts?
How have different state-making technologies, apparatuses, norms and institutions ordered permissible forms of violence both historically and contemporarily in Israel and Palestine?
What tools, both conceptual and strategic, are needed to reorder the legitimation of violence which structure the continued occupation of Palestine?

In framing proposals, we encourage contributors to approach the occupation of Palestine in its full historical and geographical dimensions, ranging if necessary beyond the experience of the Occupied Palestinian Territory since 1967 and/or the post-1948 period.

Keynote speaker: Noura Erakat. Noura is a human rights attorney and currently an Assistant Professor at George Mason University; a co-editor of Jadaliyya  – another indispensable resource – she is working on a book-length manuscript that narrates the Palestinian-Israel conflict through critical junctures in international law.

Please submit abstracts of no more than 300 words to James Eastwood ( and Catherine Charrett (

Funds are available for modest travel bursaries for research students and early career academics. Please contact the organisers for more details.

Deadline for proposals: 24th February 2017.