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What love and solidarity look like at a neoliberal/imperial university? Teaching Palestine, Third Worldism and gender justice

Sat, November 4, 10:00 to 11:40am, Le Centre Sheraton Montreal, Salon Drummond Centre (Level 3)

Session Submission Type: Paper Session


On September 23, 2020, Zoom, FaceBook and YouTube shut down Whose Narratives? Gender, Justice & Resistance: A Conversation with Leila Khaled, a virtual open classroom in Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas (AMED) Studies and Women and Gender Studies (WGS) at SFSU, co-organized by Rabab Abdulhadi (AMED Studies) and Tomomi Kinukawa (WGS), who brought six classes together in September and October 2020 for a 2-part series on gender and sexual justice in Palestine and Arab and Muslim communities, comparatively centered on an international sense of the indivisibility of justice. The unintended consequences of the pandemic’s conversion to online instruction opened up the worldwide internet for decolonizing the curriculum in contrast with earlier administrative obstacles against collaborative classrooms on Japanese American Day of Remembrance and Afro-Palestinians/ Black-Palestinian solidarity in February 2020 alone. Falsely accusing the two feminist and queer professors of “material support for terrorism” and “anti-Semitism”, an intensive Zionist smear campaign succeeded in convincing private big tech corporations, Zoom, FB, and Google, to censor Palestinian and other narratives of resistance. Though a public university, the neoliberal Administration of SFSU, played an instrumental role in silencing Palestine and gender and sexual justice, colluding with Zionist groups to facilitate the censorship of the classroom and to amplify white supremacist, imperial and colonial feminist mindset (Abdulhadi 2018) that sees Palestine, AMED, and people of color feminisms merely as “optional” at best and an oxymoron at worst. Despite decisive victories in 3 independent and randomly selected faculty hearing panels, the Islamophobic, Orientalist and colonialist SFSU President vetoed the decision and torpedoed shared governance and further escalated the systematic designs to dismantle the AMED Studies program and in doing so criminalize Teaching Palestine and its conceptual framework of the indivisibility of justice.

This proposal for a panel/plenary session will analyze the pedagogical and intellectual implications of justice-centered scholarship and curriculum for American Studies and Middle East Studies, the two professional associations that will be meeting at the same time in Montreal. At the heart of this year’s ASA theme of solidarity and love, some of the questions we will address ask: How is Palestine imagined in these two and other area studies? Does the location of historic Palestine in West Asia (West Asia and North Africa, MENA, or other geopolitical references) constitute a sufficient reason to argue that geography is destiny or invoke a Cold War area studies perspective to claim scholarly legitimacy? How does the study and teaching of Palestine shape intellectual grounds that would challenge various (academic and grassroots) dogmas theoretically justifying a framework of the indivisibility of justice instead? What visible and invisible histories exist on studies and movements' critiques of right-wing imperialist appropriation of traumas and memories, violence and solidarities and how has that silenced radical narratives of resistance? What are limitations and possibilities of crossborder comparative studies that historically ground and inform internationalist community-based solidarities around the radical praxis of memories and remembrance?

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