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Perspectives on ISRAEL/PALESTINE STUDIES as Academic Framework

Tue, December 18, 8:30 to 10:00am, Seaport Hotel & World Trade Center, Cambridge 1

Session Submission Type: Roundtable


This session aims to interrogate the possibilities and limitations of framing academic research in terms of an integrated field of “Israel/Palestine studies.” It endeavors to define “Israel/Palestine studies” vis-a-vis other extant frameworks while paying close attention to the implications of crossing borders, whether linguistic, geographic, epistemological and/or phenomenological. It will further address some of the pedagogical, logistical and political issues that arise from attempting an integrated approach to the archive, literary text and historical narrative. Questions posed will include the following: 1) How does the academic framework of “Israel/Palestine Studies” differ from “Israel Studies,” “Palestine Studies” and/or “Jewish Studies,” and how is it similar? What types of research questions necessitate the articulation of a field of “Israel/Palestine Studies”? 2) What is gained and what is lost in the move to an integrated “Israel/Palestine Studies”? Is such a framework universally applicable, and/or are there some research questions for which it is unhelpful? 3) What is the place of nomenclature and language in this articulation? What are the valences of the term “Israel/Palestine” vis-a-vis other historical designations (such as Mandatory Palestine, the Holy Land, and/or Zion?) What are the possibilities and limitations of drawing on sources in both Hebrew and Arabic? 4) Are there any implicit intellectual or political implications of an “Israel/Palestine Studies” academic framework? Participants include literary scholar Rachel Green and historians Seth Anziska, Ari Ariel, Jonathan Gribetz, Liora Halperin, Mostafa Hussein and Geoffrey Levin. All cultivate perspectives that exceed the bounds of any one national narrative. Green considers the comparative aesthetics of emotion in Hebrew and Arabic literatures. Anziska explores the possibility and limitations of historical research across national borders given the afterlives of political violence. Ariel brings historical narratives of Mizrahiyut and Arab Jewishness into conversation. Gribetz researches the mutual perceptions of Zionists and Arabs. Halperin is interested in the ongoing presence of Ottoman and Mandate Palestine in histories of the Israeli state. Hussein interrogates the cultural-historical contribution of Islam to Zionist self-understanding. Levin’s research conceives of American Jewish, Israeli, and Palestinian history as overlapping and entangled.

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