Gaza in Context: A Collaborative Teach-In Series
First Installment: Gaza 101
Featuring: Ziad Abu-Rish, Fida Adely, Aslı Bali, Rana Barakat, Rochelle Davis, Beshara Doumani, Noura Erakat, Adel Iskandar, Maya Mikdashi, Sherene Seikaly, Lisa Wedeen
Moderated by: Bassam Haddad
We are together experiencing a catastrophic unfolding of history as Gaza awaits a massive invasion of potentially genocidal proportions. This follows an incessant bombardment of a population increasingly bereft of the necessities of living in response to the Hamas attack in Israel on October 7. The context within which this takes place includes a well-coordinated campaign of misinformation and the unearthing of a multitude of essentialist and reductionist discursive tropes that depict Palestinians as the culprits, despite a context of structural subjugation and Apartheid existence on which most Human Rights organizations have established consensus.
The co-organizers below are convening weekly teach-ins and conversations on a host of issues that introduce our common university communities, educators, researchers, and students to the history and present of Gaza, in context.
In this first teach-in session, we feature short introductions to the topic and foreshadow the conversations to come. We will also be screening clips from the documentary GAZA IN CONTEXT, which provides an analytical and data-driven background on Gaza.
Organized by: Arab Studies Institute, Georgetown University’s Center for Contemporary Arab Studies, George Mason University’s Middle East and Islamic Studies Program, Rutgers Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Birzeit University, Harvard’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Brown University’s Center for Middle East Studies, University of Chicago’s Center for Contemporary Theory, Brown University’s New Directions in Palestinian Studies, Georgetown University’s Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, Simon Fraser University’s Centre for Comparative Muslim Studies, Georgetown University - Qatar, American University of Cairo’s Alternative Policy Studies, Middle East Studies’ Global Academy
Ziad Abu-Rish is Co-Director of the MA Program in Human Rights and the Arts, and Visiting Associate Professor of Human Rights, at Bard College. He is a 2020–21 American Druze Foundation Fellow in the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies at Georgetown University. His research explores state formation, economic development, and popular mobilizations in the Middle East, with a particular focus on Lebanon and Jordan. Abu-Rish was previously Assistant Professor of History and Founding Director of the Middle East and North Africa Studies Certificate Program at Ohio University. He serves as Co-Editor of Arab Studies Journal and Jadaliyya, as well as Co-Director of the Middle East Studies Pedagogy Initiative (MESPI) and the Lebanese Dissertation Summer Institute. He is also a Research Fellow at the Lebanese Center for Policy Studies (LCPS)
Fida Adely is an Associate Professor at the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies in the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University and the Clovis and Hala Salaam Maksoud Chair in Arab Studies. She is also currently serving as the Academic Director for the Arab Studies program at Georgetown. Dr. Adely is an anthropologist and her research interests include education, labor, development, and gender in the Arab world. Her primary research site has been Jordan, although she teaches and writes about the Arab world more broadly.
Aslı Bâli is a Professor of Law at the UCLA School of Law and Faculty Director of the Promise Institute for Human Rights. Bâli's teaching and research interests are in the areas of public international law—including international human rights and humanitarian law and the law of the international security order—and comparative constitutional law, with an emphasis on the Middle East. Her scholarship has appeared in the International Journal of Constitutional Law, University of Chicago Law Review, UCLA Law Review, American Journal of International Law Unbound, Yale Journal of International Law, Virginia Journal of International Law, Cornell Journal of International Law and the Vanderbilt Transnational Law Journal, among others, in addition to numerous peer-reviewed social science journals and edited volumes. Bâli is co-editor of Constitution Writing, Religion and Democracy, published by Cambridge University Press (2017) and a second edited volume, From Revolution to Devolution: Experiments in Decentralization in the MENA Region, forthcoming from Cambridge University Press in 2022.
Rana Barakat is an assistant professor of history at Birzeit University in Palestine. Her research interests include the history and historiography of colonialism, nationalism, and cultures of resistance. She is currently working on a book monograph titled "Lifta and Resisting the Museumification of Palestine: Indigenous History of the Nakba," which advances an indigenous understanding of time, space, and memory in Palestine by focusing on the details of the people and place of Lifta village over time.
Rochelle Davis is the Director of the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies, part of the Walsh School of Foreign Service, at Georgetown University. Her main research is on forced migration, war, and conflict, particularly Palestinian, Syrian, and Iraqi refugees and internally displaced persons. Her first book, Palestinian Village Histories: Geographies of the Displaced (Stanford University Press, 2011), addresses how Palestinian refugees today write histories of their villages that were destroyed in the 1948 war, and the stories and commemorations of village life that are circulated in the diaspora. She is currently writing a book on the role of culture in the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Davis is the lead qualitative researcher on the joint ISIM-IOM project, a 3-year longitudinal study of 4000 Iraqi families displaced by ISIS. She has published articles and reports on displaced Syrians, Sudanese and Somali refugees in Jordan, and is working on issues related to gender and vulnerability -- in particular, Syrian men faced with forced conscription into the Syrian army who choose to flee. For more of her publications, see her Georgetown website.
Beshara Doumani is the inaugural Mahmoud Darwish Professor of Palestinian Studies, the first chair of its kind dedicated to this field of study. He is also the founding director (2012-2018) of Brown's Center for Middle East Studies (CMES), and founder of New Directions for Palestinian Studies, a CMES initiative since 2012. From 2012-2020 he was the Joukowsky Family Distinguished Professor of Modern Middle East History. Doumani's research focuses on groups, places, and time periods marginalized by mainstream scholarship on the early modern and modern Middle East, with a focus on the social, economic, and legal history of Eastern Mediterranean. He also writes on the topics of academic freedom, and the Palestinian condition. His books include Rediscovering Palestine: Merchants and Peasants in Jabal Nablus, 1700-1900, and Family Life in the Ottoman Mediterranean: A Social History. He is currently working on the modern history of the Palestinians through the social life of stone.
Noura Erakat is a human rights attorney and an Assistant Professor at Rutgers University, New Brunswick Department of Africana Studies. Her research interests include humanitarian law, refugee law, national security law, and critical race theory. Noura is the author of Justice for Some: Law As Politics in the Question of Palestine (Stanford University Press, 2019). She is a Co-Founding Editor of Jadaliyya e-zine and an Editorial Committee member of the Journal of Palestine Studies. She has served as Legal Counsel for a Congressional Subcommittee in the House of Representatives, as a Legal Advocate for the Badil Center for Palestinian Refugee and Residency Rights, and as the national grassroots organizer and legal advocate at the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation. Noura is the coeditor of Aborted State? The UN Initiative and New Palestinian Junctures, an anthology related to the 2011 and 2012 Palestine bids for statehood at the UN. More recently, Noura released a pedagogical project on the Gaza Strip and Palestine, which includes a short multimedia documentary, "Gaza In Context," that rehabilitates Israel’s wars on Gaza within a settler-colonial framework. She is also the producer of the short video, "Black Palestinian Solidarity." She is a frequent commentator, with recent appearances on CBS News, CNN, Fox News, and NPR, among others, and her writings have been widely published in the national media and academic journals.
Adel Iskandar is an Assistant Professor of Global Communication at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada. He is the author, coauthor, and editor of several works including Egypt In Flux: Essays on an Unfinished Revolution (AUCP/OUP), Al-Jazeera: The Story of the Network that is Rattling Governments and Redefining Modern Journalism (Basic Books), Edward Said: A Legacy of Emancipation and Representation (University of California Press), and Mediating the Arab Uprisings (Tadween Publishing). Iskandar`s work deals with media, identity and politics and has lectured extensively on these topics at universities worldwide. His forthcoming publication is the coedited volume Media Evolution on the Eve of the Arab Spring (Palgrave Macmillan). Iskandar taught for several years at the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies and the Communication, Culture, and Technology program at Georgetown University in Washington, DC. He is a co-editor of Jadaliyya.
Maya Mikdashi is an Associate Professor in the Department of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Rutgers University. Her first book Sextarianism: Sovereignty, Secularism and the State in Lebanon (SUP, 2022) theorizes the relationships between sexual difference and political difference, the religious and the secular, and law, bureaucracy, and biopower. Her work is grounded in ethnographic and archival research, and has been translated into Arabic, Turkish, French, Spanish, and German. Maya has been published in several peer-reviewed journals, including the International Journal of Middle East Studies, Gay and Lesbian Quarterly, Transgender Studies Quarterly, Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, the Journal of Palestine Studies, and the American Indian Culture and Research Journal. She has also been published in peer-reviewed edited volumes and in public-facing venues. She is a co-founding editor of Jadaliyya.
Sherene Seikaly is Associate Professor of History at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She held the Qatar Postdoctoral Fellowship at Georgetown University and the Europe in the Middle East Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin. Seikaly was Director of the Middle East Studies Center at the American University in Cairo (2012-2014), where she was awarded an Excellence in Teaching Award in 2014. Seikaly's Men of Capital: Scarcity and Economy in Mandate Palestine (Stanford University Press, 2016) explores how Palestinian capitalists and British colonial officials used economy to shape territory, nationalism, the home, and the body. Her forthcoming book, From Baltimore to Beirut: On the Question of Palestine focuses on a Palestinian man who was at once a colonial officer and a colonized subject, an enslaver and a refugee. His trajectory from nineteenth century mobility across Baltimore and Sudan to twentieth century immobility in Lebanon places the question of Palestine in a global history of race, capital, slavery, and dispossession. Seikaly is the recipient of the National Endowment for the Humanities Research Fellowship, the Distinguished Teaching Award from the Academic Senate, the University of California, Santa Barbara; the Harold J. Plous Award at UCSB; and the UC President’s Faculty Research Fellowship. She currently serves as co-editor of Journal of Palestine Studies and co-founder and co-editor of Jadaliyya.
Lisa Wedeen is the Mary R. Morton Professor of Political Science and the College and the Co-Director of the Chicago Center for Contemporary Theory at the University of Chicago. She is also Associate Faculty in Anthropology and the Co-Editor of the University of Chicago Book Series, “Studies in Practices of Meaning.” Her publications include three books: Ambiguities of Domination: Politics, Rhetoric, and Symbols in Contemporary Syria (1999; with a new preface, 2015); Peripheral Visions: Publics, Power and Performance in Yemen (2008); and Authoritarian Apprehensions: Ideology, Judgment, and Mourning in Syria (2019). Among her articles are the following: “Conceptualizing ‘Culture’: Possibilities for Political Science” (2002); “Concepts and Commitments in the Study of Democracy” (2004), “Ethnography as an Interpretive Enterprise” (2009), “Reflections on Ethnographic Work in Political Science” (2010), “Ideology and Humor in Dark Times: Notes from Syria” (2013), and “Scientific Knowledge, Liberalism, and Empire: American Political Science in the Modern Middle East” (2016). She is the recipient of the David Collier Mid-Career Achievement Award and an NSF fellowship, and is currently completing an edited volume with Joseph Masco, entitled Conspiracy/Theory.
Bassam Haddad (Moderator) is Founding Director of the Middle East and Islamic Studies Program and Associate Professor at the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University. He is the author of Business Networks in Syria: The Political Economy of Authoritarian Resilience (Stanford University Press, 2011) and co-editor of A Critical Political Economy of the Middle East (Stanford University Press, 2021). Bassam is Co-Founder/Editor of Jadaliyya Ezine and Executive Director of the Arab Studies Institute. He serves as Founding Editor of the Arab Studies Journal and the Knowledge Production Project. He is co-producer/director of the award-winning documentary film, About Baghdad, and director of the acclaimed series Arabs and Terrorism. Bassam serves on the Board of the Arab Council for the Social Sciences and is Executive Producer of Status Audio Magazine and Director of the Middle East Studies Pedagogy Initiative (MESPI). He received MESA's Jere L. Bacharach Service Award in 2017 for his service to the profession. Currently, Bassam is working on his second Syria book titled Understanding the Syrian Calamity: Regime, Opposition, Outsiders (forthcoming, Stanford University Press).