[This article is part of a roundtable that is a product of a public forum that Academics for Justice in Palestine (AJP) at UCSB held on 8 December 2023. To see all other entries in this roundtable, click here.]
My name is Lisa Park and I teach Asian American Studies at UCSB, and am a member of AJP. I wanted to talk about what brings me to Palestine, and what Palestine brings to me.
I come to Palestine with questions about borders. That national borders are spaces of state violence is not new information. But, the current graphic articulation of borders as the exertion of state power is breathtaking. The violence of mundane forms of settler-colonialism comes together with what we would like to assume are spectacular, deathly events. I don’t know anymore. What is happening in Palestine today forces me to rethink the violence of the mundane and what it takes to legitimize settler colonialism. Palestine brings me to understand how one settler colonial system is interconnected with another; and why collective struggle across borders is necessary.
Now, I have so many more questions. What does collective identity as a people and their attachment to specific land and its history look like without the strictures of nation-state walls? Can our origin stories be free from narratives that legitimize occupation of another group? What does this look like? If nation-state borders, as they currently exist, are about controlling the parameters of acceptable death and elimination, what might a joint struggle for Palestinian life look like?
Palestine brings me to understand that this joint struggle must reside apart from regimes of legality that are so thoroughly bankrupt from any sense of lived experience, reasonable logic, much less justice. The fact that the existence of Palestinian life is an act of war against the settler colonial state occupying their land demonstrates what is at stake for all of us.