University of Sussex
Shqerat, Maysa.pdf (5.87 MB)

Everyday resistance and settler colonialism in Palestine

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posted on 2023-06-09, 15:02 authored by Maysa Shqerat
In recent years, scholarship on settler colonialism has gained much attention. Many scholars, activists and thinkers have welcomed the “settler colonial turn” because it bridges gaps post-colonial theory cannot adequately cover. While scholarship on settler colonialism has much to offer, however as I argue in this thesis, it has its limitations and risks. Even though this literature is relatively recent and is continually developing, it has an important limitation: there is within it no hope for decolonisation. The reason for this absence of hope is, I argue in this thesis, because the ‘settler colonial turn is rooted in the concept of ‘the logic of elimination’. The overarching aim of this thesis is to question the distorted image of Palestine in the literature on settler colonialism, and draw attention to the harm that may be inflicted by the absence in that literature of stories of hope and resistance. This thesis adopts the Latin American school of decoloniality and the tradition of standpoint epistemology in feminist scholarship, both of which challenge official versions of history and the hegemony of one way of seeing and knowing the world. The philosophy of decolonial research is crucial in this thesis because it acknowledges and brings uncomfortable questions to the fore. Seen through a decolonial lens, knowledge production can be understood as consisting of multiple ways of knowing, ways that can be colonial or resistive. Decolonial literature appreciates different resources of knowledge and places attention on the relation between material experience, power, and epistemology. This thesis argues that the hegemony of a singular way of analysis currently employed to understanding the settler colonial situation in Palestine must be carefully re-examined and refuted. In it, I develop the main argument that challenges the settler colonial logic of elimination, and I build the case and develop the argument for alternative ways of conceptualising settler colonialism as seen through, as I call them, the Ahl Al-Ard eyes.¹ I do so by establishing resistance rather than elimination as the primary analytical lens. I situate the case of Palestine as a context of a struggle for liberation rather than an endless “slow-motion Nakba”. Approaching the research for this thesis from the perspective of hope and resistance, I conducted a ten month period of fieldwork in Palestine in 2013-2014, using a multi-sited “ethnography of hope”. I followed and explored the “spirit of resistance”, as a nomadic science. I uncovered multiple dimensions and manifestations of hope and resistance embodied in spatialities of resistance in various sites in Jerusalem, in life and death moments of the survivors of the Gaza War, and in the defying narratives of the Al-Muwahhidun individuals and defectors from Haifa. Collectively, these sites, moments and life stories challenge the singular narrative of settler colonialism, as put forward in the influential works of the white Australian settler colonial scholars Patrick Wolfe and Lorenzo Veracini, and the distorted images of Palestine in the “Eurocentric mirror” as it appears in the settler colonial studies’ framework. There are, I suggest, wider political implications beyond the academic realm of using the single narrative of settler colonialism. If the elimination story is taken for granted and repeatedly recited without challenging its underlying assumptions, then, it may well be established as the main narrative – the only truth – in other spheres of academic disciplines and political debates. Then, the elimination story may well become a self-fulfilling prophecy. ¹ Ahl Al Ard literally means the land inhabitants. Ahl is also used to refer to family relationship and entitlement.


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