Palestine Re-Covered: Reading a Settler Colonial Landscape
- Jerome Greene Hall, Room 102B Columbia Law School 435 West 116th Street New York, NY, 10027 United States
Post-Zionist historians, relying almost exclusively on Israeli government archives, sought to debunk Zionist nationalist myths about the war of 1948, and were mostly occupied by the question of whether there was a master plan to ethnically cleanse Palestinians. Despite its importance, this question distracted researchers from inquiring about the responsibility of the Israeli society as a whole for the displacement of refugees, especially when it comes to appropriating Palestinian lands and property, and preventing the return of Palestinian refugees. Based on a meticulous examination of local archives of a leftist Zionist movement - Ha-Shomer Ha-Tza'ir - in Marj Ibn 'Amer, Areej Sabbagh-Khoury, Ibrahim Abu-Lughod Post-Doctoral Fellow at Columbia University, tracks the process of settler colonial practices and ideologies that enabled the expulsion in 1948 and the pillaging of the property of their Palestinian neighbors. She also explores the politics of remembering by Ha-Shomer Ha-Tzair kibbutzim members as they reconstructed memories of the 1948 colonization practices and their role in the Nakba.
Based on an extensive photo archive of road signs, Abdul Rahim al-Shaikh, Associate Professor of Philosophy and Cultural Studies at Birzeit University, Fulbright Visiting Senior Scholar at the Center for Palestine Studies, interrogates the colonial politics of toponymy within historic Palestine from as early as 1856. It shows how eurocentric, colonizing politics of toponymy were deployed by the Zionists, the Zionist movement, and the settler colonial state of Israel to rename the Palestinian landscape. Declaring Palestine a terra nullius brought the Columbus namemania into play, necessitating theorizing the collapse of two events, Euro-American colonialism and Zionism, in one, albeit ongoing, structure. The talk constructs a genealogy of the Zionist names commissions and its inherent politics; elaborates on the modes of resistance against these colonial politics; examines the map transformations on the political, cultural and artistic levels of the Palestinian imaginations; and traces the counter-cultural engineering deployed to combat a century-long project directed towards synthesizing a geographic amnesia.