Jadaliyya Environment page sponsored sessions:
The Jadaliyya Environment page has organized two sessions. Both sessions are on Friday, December 3 at 11:30 AM ET:
[P6298] Spatial and Environmental Histories of Iraq
This panel uses a spatial analytic to reimagine environmental histories and the political economy of land in twentieth century Iraq. Recently scholars have increasingly engaged in material analyses of Iraq’s riverscapes, wetlands, animal life and disease. Building on this body of literature, this panel poses alternative conceptions of boundary and definition-making from the individual to the landscape. Conversely, spatial analyses of Iraq have often focused on the question of state artificiality. This panel moves beyond this kind of purely political spatiality to investigate the spatially-uneven environmental transformation of economic activities and social life, demonstrating how these uneven transformations shape human and non-human communities and environments through migration, displacement, and dispossession.
The first paper examines how a suite of illicit behaviors centered on “banditry” and borrowed names came to define the edge of the late Ottoman community in the marshes and rice lands near ‘Amara. It argues that these behaviors were increasingly spatialized through association with the practice of border-crossing, ultimately confining Ottoman identity both discursively and spatially. The second paper examines how, in the 1930s, estates that were primarily marshlands in which surface area annually fluctuated, were concretely fixed for the purpose of commercial agriculture. This process enabled and provoked abstract claims to property and nationality, ultimately rendering these notions real and concrete in the new political geography of Iraq. The third paper seeks to broaden the historical notion of what constituted a ‘wetland’ in Iraq. In the 1940s-50s, similar to how the Iraqi state viewed southeastern marshlands as a problem of development, this paper interrogates how capital’s authorities and state officials perceived buffalo-breeding families, the Iraqi river buffaloes, and their urban ‘wetlands’ as a problem that required drastic environmental intervention and transformation. The fourth paper investigates how T-walls function as ecological figures that symbolize much broader impacts of displacement and environmental estrangement in the long wake of the War on Terror. Rather than mark the edge, such concrete artifacts mark the messy middle of occupied territories.
Presenters: Camille Cole, Huma Gupta, Kali Rubaii, Gabriel Young, Faisal Husain
[R6394] Critical Environmental Perspectives of the MENA
Issues of ecology, the built environment, and material infrastructures are central to historic and contemporary studies of the Middle East and North Africa. However, the biodiversity of the region conceptualized as the “birthplace of agriculture” had, in Eurocentric scholarship dating back centuries, been flattened to a homogenous and threatening desert landscape. In the past decade, scholarship across disciplines has untangled and challenged hegemonic narratives of environmental degradation or stasis, celebrating instead critical understandings of environmental change and complex relations between humans and more-than-human life. Yet environmental determinist myths persist and have been adapted for the contemporary moment by policymakers, popular media, and even scholars. Older imperialist framings of the “resource curse” of fossil fuels and environmental imaginaries of arid lands as barren and unable to support life persist. These framings, compounded by worsening local and transregional effects of climate change (drought, fire, flood), obscure rather than help solve the root causes of issues like war and refugee migration. Relatedly, the rise of “green” capitalist development throughout the region, in rural and urban spaces alike, raises questions about the messy history of ecological capitalism and the shortcomings associated with the promise of green infrastructure to fuel a sustainable future.
This roundtable brings together an interdisciplinary group of scholars at different career stages to ask, what is the state of environmental studies of the MENA moving forward, and what are the theories and methods needed to deal with both the stickiness of old problems and the emergence of new ones? With a particular emphasis on scholarship informed by critical materialist lenses without neglecting the power of representation, roundtable participants will reflect on themes such as:
- The use of transregional, transnational, and transdisciplinary lenses and approaches in their own work
- Methodological opportunities and challenges for critical materialist approaches to the environment
- The persistence of old or emergence of new environmental crises in the region, and what environmental studies in the MENA can teach about the “environmental crisis” lens writ large
- The importance and pitfalls of “thinking from” the MENA region to broader global environmental conversations
Presenters: Jeannie Sowers, Jennifer Derr, Noura Wahby, China Sajadian, Gabi Kirk, Owain Lawson
Jadaliyya Environment Page network member sessions:
The following sessions include members of the Jadaliyya Environment Page editorial team and wider network.
Monday, November 29, 2:00 PM ET
[P6318] Art and Revolution in Iraq
This panel develops a new political vocabulary to chart Iraqi geography through an engagement with visual artists whose work reframes the nation’s past and present. Papers in the panel demonstrate how Iraqi artists offer a fresh lexicon to make visible unseen structural violence inherent in the statecraft project. Participants demonstrate how artists re-map Iraq’s geographies, both physical and imagined, and in so doing develop modalities for seeing and engaging the state. In a post-truth world, these artists demonstrate that artistic expression—both visual and textual—offer a more expansive vocabulary than reportage to redefine Iraq and what can be known about it. Iraqi artists subvert dominant ways of narrating the state by composing symbols of a past never seen by their creators but reconstructed from archival traces; imagined realities that could be in the present and yet are not; and deliberations on regional futures. The panel ultimately considers how Iraqi artists reframe national geography by asking their audiences to confront the uncomfortable truths that defined its bounds or by charting a new way forward altogether.
Presenters: Nada M. Shabout, Bridget Guarasci, Sinan Antoon, Sara Pursley, Tiffany Floyd, Ikram Masmoudi
Wednesday, December 1, 11:30 AM ET
[P6379] Interrogating Race in Arabian Peninsula Studies
Within area studies of the Arabian Peninsula, “ethnocracy” has become a common term used to describe the way that state, employment, and social structures create hierarchies of privilege based on ideas of essentialized national groups. Ethnocracy allows scholars to move past normative analyses of residents as “nationals” or “migrants” and instead consider how these statuses are co-produced and interacting within relationships of power. However, difference and inequality in the Gulf region remains primarily passport-based even in critical contemporary studies, collapsing nationality with ethnicity, and unable to address how a privileged passport is not equivalent to a privileged ethnicity. This panel aims to gather scholars that analyze social hierarchies and dynamics in the Arabian Peninsula in terms of race and racialization, a much needed analytic for the study of the region both historically and ethnographically. A racial analysis has several motives and implications, as presenters in this panel will discuss. Rather than conceptualizing the Arabian Peninsula as exceptional, we consider the region’s role in histories of imperialism and slavery, whose legacies have contemporary dimensions. As hubs of transnational exchange, Arabian Peninsula societies are important contexts in which to study the interchange between globally circulating ideas about race and its local iterations, such as the ways that nationalities get tethered to racialized stereotypes within labor markets, citizenship regimes, migration circuits, state security apparatuses, and various social interactions. Papers on this panel will elaborate on questions of race and racialization in the Arabian Peninsula: to which extent, and how, has national citizenship been racialized, and what are the shifting parameters of Arabness? How can we conceptualize Blackness in the region and its relationship to Arabness and Indigeneity? Given that many inhabitants of Arabian cities are immigrants, how do racial categories circulate between their “home” societies and Gulf societies? What is the role of whiteness in the Gulf, and how is it tethered to the circulation of "expert" knowledges? How are racial hierarchies interlocked with nationality, but also class, gender, and sexuality? What are the shortcomings of scholarship that does not interrogate racial hierarchies in Arabian Peninsula studies, and how might scholars be reproducing stereotypes and hierarchies in their research practices?
Presenters: Neha Vora, Noora Lori, Amelie Le Renard, Idil Akinci, Gokh Amin Alshaif, Danya Al-Saleh
Wednesday, December 1, 2:00 PM ET
[P6551] Doctors, Patients, and the Making of Medical Subjectivities
This panel explores evolving notions of “doctors” and “patients” – and the relationships among them – in institutionalized medicine in the first half of the twentieth century in Lebanon and Egypt. Beginning in the nineteenth century, medicals schools and faculties of medicine were established in the Middle East and North Africa to train a new class of physicians. Hospitals and clinics multiplied, some established by the state and others to serve specific religious and national communities. With the advent of colonial influence in the region, the numbers and influence of European doctors increased. During the 1930s and 1940s, public health programs were another manifestation of institutional medicine. Throughout this period, notions of health, disease, and therapeutics changed significantly among physicians. As their ideas about the body and its function evolved, so did their roles, their presumed knowledge, and their relationships with patients, many of whom viewed institutional medicine with skepticism, suspicion, and fear. Those who became “patients” often had not done so according to contemporary notions of “consent.” Their relationships with doctors were often troubled by social hierarchies, the absence of a common language, and different prevailing notions of what constituted disease, treatment, and care. The papers that comprise this panel explore changing ideas about doctors, patients, and disease. In colonial Egypt, peasants who suffered dementia linked to the disease pellagra were sometimes treated at the mental hospital at ‘Abbasiyya, where they understood their own condition in terms that differed fundamentally from those of hospital staff. Mental hospitals in 1930s Lebanon (and elsewhere) disciplined the socially rebellious, among them women. While their rebellion was conceptualized in relation to a specific local context, the categories that sought to identify it as disfunction were debated across disparate geographies. What it meant to be a physician was also contested – and changing – ground. At critical periods in Egypt’s history, Egyptian physicians have resurrected an interwar-period tract criticizing the medical system that was penned by a European physician to articulate their discontent with the conditions framing their own historical moment. Finally, during the 1940s and 1950s, as public health interventions became more widespread in Egypt, the realm of medical intervention – and by extension the roles of doctors and patients – shifted as the field of medicine and treatment moved beyond institutions.
Presenters: Jennifer Derr, Elise Burton, Soha Bayoumi, Lamia Moghnieh, Sam Pulliam
Thursday, December 2 11:30 AM ET
[P6517] Shrinking Spaces, Excluded Communities, and Transformed Environments: Exploring Health and Environment Among Palestinians through Eco-Social Approaches
Eco-system degradation and land alienation for native populations are an inevitable product of the settler-colonial process. The loss of sovereignty over land, the change of landscape, the transformation of trees, herbs, and livestock are ubiquitous in different settler-colonial settings. These changes have their effect on human health. A key feature of the Zionist settler-colonial project in Palestine has been the continued expropriation and fragmentation of Palestinian land through various means, including bureaucratic and administrative control of land, water, populations, and localities. Exclusionary policies and measures aimed at increased control and erasure of the native population are continuously employed and shape the lived realities and spaces that Palestinians inhabit.
The continuous colonial-engineering of space has transformed the environment, including altering natural ecosystems, expediting urban sprawl, and producing environmental hazards to susceptible populations. These environmental transformations are an important site of study in and of themselves, and in terms of the implications for the health and wellbeing of Palestinians. Agroecology researchers point to the importance of examining the critical ecologies of the relationships between people, plants, and landscapes and how these ecologies have been reshaped and transformed by structural processes; and their implications for the social ecologies of local communities. Concurrently, health researchers draw on eco-social theory to understand the health of populations through a multilevel lens that interrogates the intersections between political, historical, social, and environmental factors. Political, environmental, societal, and economic conditions interact with community, family, and individual conditions to produce health conditions. Our bodies embody these structures that shape our bodies and the spaces into which our bodies are born, age, get sick or disabled and eventually die in.
In this panel, we focus on the interplay between environmental transformations, resulting from exclusionary spatial policies and settler-colonial encroachment, and health in the Palestinian contexts. We also explore how settler colonialism as an ongoing process in Palestine has largely shaped the habitat, landscapes, behaviors and movements, and social ecologies of Palestinians in some of the fragmented geographies of Palestine and how that translates into different health conditions, including avoidable diseases and disabilities. Our speakers will explore the intersections between environment, social ecologies, and health in various fragmented geographic contexts ranging from the West Bank and Jerusalem to ‘48 Palestine.
Presenters: Brian Boyd, Omar Tesdell, Maysaa Nemer, Weeam Hammoudeh, Usama Tanous
[R6499] Lebanon Unsettled
In 2019, large-scale non-sectarian protests across Lebanon unsettled the political system and challenged the very understanding of Lebanese history, space and identity. This protest movement has provided the opportunity for a new generation in Lebanon to rewrite, and potentially heal, the bitterly disputed histories of the country. This roundtable will discuss and consider what openings and momentum this protest movement has indeed created. The Lebanon Unsettled roundtable will discuss the state of the scholarship on protest in Lebanon on the recent protests and more broadly, it will also place a focus on archives in Lebanon both past and present on protest. We will discuss the ethical, as well as political and scholarly, tensions in engaging the subject of protest in Lebanon and the possibility of doing serious scholarly research on this particular topic in the current climate in the country and on such a moving target. This roundtable also seeks to create the opportunity to engage this historical and geographical context of the protest; creating an open dialogue on the past, present and future of protest in Lebanon and place it in conversation with protests across the region and beyond.
Presenters: Deen Sharp, Diala Lteif, Noura Wahby, May Farhat
[P6373] The Asian and African Provinces of the Ottoman Empire: Marginal Histories and New Approaches
This panel’s participants draw on largely underutilized sources on the Asian and African provinces of the Ottoman Empire to address two imbalances in Ottomanist historiography: first, recent revisionist models of early modern Ottoman statecraft have overgeneralized from case studies of Istanbul, Anatolia, and the Balkans; second, the Cultural Turn in Ottoman studies, while generating invaluable insights and methodologies, has drawn scholars away from the study of local particularities in the early modern period and toward sources produced by urban elites in the decades after the westernizing Tanzimat reforms (1839-76).
This panel expands our knowledge of provincial governance as an ongoing process of accommodation with an unexpectedly diverse cast of local actors. Ottoman Kurds in northern Syria, recent Muslim converts from Judaism, and merchants in Egyptian port cities all commanded access to economic, political, and spiritual capital that came into the view of bureaucrats and lawmakers seeking sources of provincial revenue and manpower.
This panel showcases critically informed approaches to sources from the “margins” of the empire to explore the boundaries of current scholarship on Ottoman sovereignty in the provinces. Paper 1 explores Jewish-Muslim intercommunal and commercial relations in the Egyptian port of Damietta through Ottoman-era documents preserved in the Cairo Geniza. Paper 2 uses more “conventional” fiscal, administrative, and legal documents in unconventional ways to trace the Ottoman state’s accommodations with and reliance on rural Kurdish notables in provincial administration in northern Syria from the sixteenth century through the Tanzimat period. Paper 3 provides a complementary analysis of Kurdish urban notables in Aleppo, using a combination of imperial and local archival and narrative sources. The final paper analyzes Ottoman responses to environmental and political crises in Egypt through the lens of intermediary groups and institutions in Alexandria around the turn of the nineteenth century. The panel’s discussant places these papers within a trans-imperial context.
Ottoman rule in Africa and western Asia transformed the nature of the empire from the sixteenth century onward, linking the Indian Ocean to the Mediterranean, bringing new ethnic and religious groups under Ottoman authority, and extending imperial frontiers deep into the heartlands of the Islamicate world. Yet Ottoman historiography has treated the Asiatic and African provinces as particular, fissiparous, and of limited explanatory value. This panel embraces diverse experiences and local particularities to show how Kurdish confederations, regional ports, and shifting religious practices and identities shaped Ottoman efforts to command legitimacy and resources.
Presenters: Jane Hathaway, Charles L. Wilkins, James Grehan, Zoe Griffith
Friday, December 3, 11:30 AM ET
[P6466] State and the City: Presences and Absences in the Mashreq
Where is the state? How is its power fashioned, formed, and assembled? This panel explores these questions through an interdisciplinary exploration of the presence and absence of political authority in urban settings in the Levant. By way of archives and ethnography, we unpack the social and material forces at play in the everyday, examining the ways they congeal to (mis)govern the denizens of five different cities across Palestine, Lebanon, Iraq, and Jordan.
Pushing back against conceptions of the state as a unitary and coherent institution, we scrutinize the mercurial practices through which it is produced. Each paper uncovers a set of uncommon agents intimately, yet perhaps unexpectedly, involved in the tasks of urban government. Under Ottoman imperial authority, and then British mandatory governance, urban life in Palestine is often historicized as subject to the whims of foreign power. Through close scrutiny of municipalisation and urban development in Jaffa and Nablus between the 1870s and 1930s, more complex governing mechanisms emerge, ones which foreground local residents as critical agents of statemaking. Peopled relations are similarly implicated in the production of political authority in Beirut. The forced migration that occurred during the Lebanese civil war (1975-1990) was to be rectified by the Ta’if Agreement, which would facilitate residents’ return to their homes. More than 30 years later, the continued displacement of former residents of the city’s Karantina district illuminates how coercive dispossession exemplifies presences and absences of state power across time.
Checkpoints in Baghdad remain ubiquitous nearly two decades since the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. Exploring the daily labors of the soldiers who man them through the prism of bureaucracy allows us to consider how ordinary tasks not often associated with governance transpire. That is, these soldiers do not just enforce a monopoly on coercion; they work to constitute the body said to hold that monopoly. Similarly, bakers in Amman would hardly be considered bureaucrats at first glance. But as they produce and sell government-subsidized Arabic bread, these bakers become implicated in materializing the state even as they highlight its truancy in other areas. Read together, these two papers strive to conceptualize dexterities and skills - “bureaucraft” - critical to effecting the state. In conjunction, the four panellists dissect how political authority articulates in and through the city, interrogating the state not as something that is, but as an assemblage that does, and does not.
Presenters: Omar Sirri, Jose Martinez, Diala Lteif, Nadi Abusaada, Sophia Stamatapoulou-Robbins
[P6527] Environmental Histories of 20th Century Iran through Local, National, Colonial, and Trans-National Perspectives
The Iranian physical environment has been fundamentally shaped by the tides of global affairs in modern times. But to what extent can we observe an effect which the environment exerted on those who lived in it, or on those who endeavoured to manipulate it? Is it a story of a reciprocal relationship between humans and nature, or rather a tragedy of a careless and short-sighted manipulation of the environment, the repercussions of which millions of Iranians experience today? To what extent was the interaction between the environment and human actors influenced by dominant narratives of nationalism, development, and environmentalism? This panel will offer diverse perspectives on these questions. The chronological time frame of the panel will begin in 1902 with the dawn of oil exploration efforts that would result in the formation of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company in Iran’s south-west. The first paper will discuss the reciprocal impacts of the oil company’s operations on the one hand, and the local climatic and disease environment on the other. It will also explore the real and perceived effects of the environment on the well-being of those whose lives and livelihoods were tied to the oil industry – such as Indian and Iranian workers, European technical and managerial staff, and local residents. The second paper will look at major nation-building projects throughout the Pahlavi era, such as the construction of the Trans-Iranian Railway (1927-1938) and that of the Karaj dam (opened 1961), through the prism of the correspondence between colonial environmental narratives, the nationalist Pahlavi ideology, and environmental change. It will examine in what ways the Iranian environment transformed as both Iranians and foreign experts strived to impose upon it their own perceptions of development and progress. The third paper treats the encounter between the natural environment and infrastructural projects over the last decades of the Pahlavi Dynasty. Examining projects such as the construction of hydroelectric dams, modern roads and irrigation canals, the paper will discuss how material elements in the natural environment shaped these projects, and informed their planners’ perception of nature. The last paper will complete the multi-dimensional approach, tracing the emergence of trans-national ties around environmental action throughout the 1960s and 1970s. Studying diplomatic/technocratic and academic networks through environmentally-oriented journals and international conferences, this paper will describe the mutual influence of the Iranian and global environmentalist communities on each other in a manner that de-centers the state without disregarding it.
Presenters: Shima Houshyar, Saghar Sadeghian, Bryan Sitzes, Arman Azimi, Amit Sadan
Friday, December 3, 2:00 PM ET
[P6513] Crime in the Archives
This panel brings together multiple disciplinary and methodological perspectives on crime across the Middle East in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. As both a phenomenon and a discourse, crime illuminates tensions within and challenges to dominant social, economic, and political orders. States often draw on the language of crime to name problems and propose their solutions. In Iran, for example, the changes in language and moral logic that accompanied the 1979 revolution did not disrupt the state’s turn to surveillance, categorization, and incarceration as a way of turning bad criminals into good citizens, effecting individual change but also transforming society at large. In Lebanon, meanwhile, a genealogy of “environmental crime” sheds light on the state’s denial of popular sovereignty over the Litani River basin, criminalizing its stakeholding publics (farmers, businesses, municipalities, and refugees) as part of a longer history of monopolizing natural resources. Yet states are not the only actors able to mobilize discourses of crime, nor are their efforts to do so impervious to alternative interpretations and imaginations of the relationship between law, state, community, and justice. Unofficial representations of disruptive, “criminal” acts thus serve as a way to articulate broader challenges to the established order. Popular fascination with the bandit Abu Jilda in 1930s Palestine, for example, tells us much about the charged atmosphere among Palestine’s Arab population on the cusp of the Great Revolt of 1936–39; writers, publishers, and audiences reveled in the titillating details of Abu Jilda’s (factual and fictionalized) exploits, which humiliated British authorities, embarrassed Arab leaders, and emphasized rural Palestinians’ honor and cunning. Following the January 2011 Egyptian uprising and the reassertion of counterrevolutionary military rule, prominent Egyptian novels have used crimes against individual bodies, against land and environment, and against society to articulate a dystopian vision of a post-2011 Egypt. Bringing together approaches rooted in critical carceral studies, environmental and social history, and literary analysis, this panel not only represents the variety of ways in which crime can be read, but also its ubiquity—as a focus of states and stakeholders, as phenomenon and symbol, and as an object of individual and collective fear, curiosity, loathing, and desire. Crime permeates and produces archives of all kinds. Careful and creative examination of these archives, as undertaken in this panel, thus offers an opportunity to cross temporal, geographic, and disciplinary boundaries in Middle East Studies.
Presenters: Emily Drumsta, Golnar Nikpour, Alex Winder, Owain Lawson, Dalia Mostafa
[P6455] Space, Place, and Textual Objects: Transforming Social Realities in the Modern Middle East
The modern Middle East, like much of the modern world, has been shaped by a series of dislocations that have disrupted social life. Textual objects—magazines created and edited by women intellectuals, city planning documents, novels and stories by exiled writers, and pamphlets distributed by anti-colonial fighters—have served as a sphere within which politicians, scholars, activists, writers, and the public have sought to understand imminent and recent social, political, and economic changes. These changes range from capitalism to urbanization, and from personal status laws to expulsions. Textual objects reflect debates fundamental to local social lives and elucidate frustrations, ideals, and aspirations that are often otherwise invisible.
To explore the relationship between textual objects and social transformations in the modern Middle East, four participants will analyze how literary texts narrate, reflect, and dictate local social transformations.
These inquiries into the relationship between the rhetorical world and transforming physical and social spaces have relevance today. Implicit in all forms of literature presented are competing visions of social justice: what is just, what is the purpose of justice, who is deserving of justice, and how do governments endeavor to build the physical world to cultivate an “ideal” society?
Panelists will address how textual objects reflect and inform social changes over time. In governmental contexts, the written word has a performative function, commanding that the physical and social worlds bend and change to mirror it. Legal codes and redevelopment plans often dictate drastic social transformation, serving as a sphere wherein ruling officials and parties can dictate alterations to physical and social realities. The juxtaposition of the imagined space depicted in legal codes and geographic space speaks to layers of ownership over society.
Social transformations are not simply the result of realities anticipated or reflected in textual objects created by governments and others in positions of power. How are social transformations challenged over time in the written world beyond legal and governmental spheres, within grassroots, local fora such as magazines, periodicals, and novels? Works by writers exiled from their nations in the twentieth century reflect the struggle of responding to social transformations across multiple languages, and when situated between old homelands and new countries of residence. Informational pamphlets distributed by the Front de Libération Nationale help construct gendered expectations in a revolutionary Algeria.
We will explore how both tangible and intangible social spaces have been transformed by forces including legal regimes, capitalism, nationalism, exile, and urbanization.
SPONSOR: Organized under the auspices of the Arab Studies Institute
Presenters: Carly Krakow, Mekarem Eljamal, Kylie Broderick, Mary Smith
[P6361] Colonial Cancers, Incarcerations, and Workplace Accidents: Embodied Histories of Labor in the 20th-Century Middle East and North Africa
In recent years, the history of labor in the Middle East and North Africa has moved beyond the new social history inspired by E.P Thomspon. According to recent scholarship, the efforts of workers and laborers of all kinds were more than mere forces of resistance. New research integrates questions of gender and race into the history of labor. It views labor as integral to patterns of globalization and argues for the importance of traveling laborers to the transportation of ideas and indeed the transformation of connections, meanings, and forms of agency.
This panel on labor expands the definition and role of the laborer in the Middle East beyond the current literature to include not just race, gender, and vehicles of scale, but also the ability and disability of the laboring body itself. Inspired in part by recent arguments on the relationships between laboring bodies, race, and public health (Hecht 2012; Derr 2020), the members of this panel explore the embodied dynamics of labor. They argue for the intersection between theories of embodiment and longstanding rubrics of modernity, capitalism, globalization, nationalism, and settler colonialism. Bodies, after all, were both constituted by and of the work environment. Studying this environment through the lens of the body reveals new ontologies of disease, home, property, and metaphors of disability as a tool to petition for citizenships and against colonialisms.
Focusing on Palestine, Tunisia, and Algeria, scholars on this panel take up different aspects of the body in geography and type. Their work draws on innovative documentary sources: X-ray and medical reports from the Gafsa mining region of Tunisia; the administrative collection of Statistiques des accidents du travail; oral history interviews with former Palestinian farmers of tobacco and construction workers; police and incarceration records from Nazareth; and literature and film. The sources in these papers provide a basis for panelists to focus on the politics of cancer in Gafsa, the cheapening and rationalization of bodies in Palestine, the fragmentation of the familial working body of tobacco growers, and discourses of self-determination and occupational hygiene in the post-1948 Israeli and French Algerian construction industry. By tracing conceptions of ability, disability, and capacity to work, these interventions redefine the agency of the laborer. In turn, they set a new agenda for labor history in the Middle East and North Africa, one that includes the materiality and social construction of the human body.
Presenters: Elizabeth Bishop, Marie Grace Brown, Kristen Alff, Nimrod Ben Zeev, Rebecca Gruskin, Basma Fahoum