Interview: Naomi Wallace and Ismail Khalidi adapt Kanafani's "Returning to Haifa" for the stage

Interview: Naomi Wallace and Ismail Khalidi adapt Kanafani's "Returning to Haifa" for the stage

In 1948, Palestinian couple Said and Safiyya fled their home during the Nakba. Now, in the aftermath of the 1967 Six Day War, the borders are open for the first time in twenty years, and the couple dare to return back to their home in Haifa. They expect to find someone else living in their former home, yet nothing prepares them for what they find in its place.

The production coincides with the 70th anniversaries of both the Nakba – the mass dispossession of the Palestinians in 1948 – and the foundation of the State of Israel. Originally commissioned by New York’s Public Theater, Returning to Haifa was cancelled after political pressure. It will now receive its world premiere at London’s Finborough Theatre on 27 February, where it will run until 24 March.

Here American playwright Naomi Wallace and Beirut-born writer Ismail Khalidi talk about adapting the novel for the stage.

February 23 | After Geertz: Panel Discussion with Lila Abu-Lughod

Friday, Feb 23, 2018 at 10:00 am
219 Aaron Burr Hall, Princeton University


Lila Abu Lughod, Columbia University
Julia Elyachar, Princeton University
Didier Fassin, Institute for Advanced Study
Lynn Meskell, Stanford University

February 23 | Screening: Take My Pictures For Me at NYU's Hagop Kevorkian Center

February 23 | Screening: Take My Pictures For Me at NYU's Hagop Kevorkian Center

Directed by Mohammed Al-Azza & Amahl Bishara.

Amahl and Mohammad are both Palestinian, but Mohammad is a refugee born in the West Bank, while Amahl holds an Israeli passport and was born in the US. When Amahl went to a protest for refugee rights in Israel and saw there many of Mohammad’s American and European colleagues, she called him in frustration that he could not be there because of Israel’s movement restrictions. He replied with a generous provocation: “Why don’t you take pictures for me?” From there begins an exchange of photographs and a set of video explorations about expression, mobility, Palestinian collectivity, and the limits of what one friend can do for another.

Post-screening discussion with Amahl Bishara and Zachary Lockman (History and Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies, NYU)

February 22 | Lecture: "Settler Colonialism Observed: Palestine's Alter-natives" at Princeton University

CPS Faculty Lila Abu-Lughod delivers the 2018 Clifford Geertz Commemorative Lecture at Princeton University.

Following in Geertz’ footsteps by thinking comparatively, Abu-Lughod will reflect on Palestine’s apparent political impasses in relation to the experiences of other colonized places and peoples. This reflection is inspired specifically by the current ferment in critical indigenous and native studies about settler colonialism in places like Australia and North America. And now Palestine. New imaginations of sovereignty and self-determination are emerging in indigenous activism, whether enabled by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People or the politics of refusal of liberal “recognition.”  The journey goes to a variety of museums and ritual spaces of recognition and ends with questions about how to judge the efflorescence of recent Palestinian cultural projects like the new Palestinian Museum. The infatuation with the framework of settler colonialism in Palestinian studies is, however contested and even problematic,  productive precisely because of the way it generates comparisons and solidarities that burst open exhausted political imaginations and bring together the political, material, and moral.

Visiting Scholar: Dr. Abed Kanaaneh

Visiting Scholar: Dr. Abed Kanaaneh

Dr. Abed Kanaaneh joins the the Middle Eastern, South Asian and African Studies at Columbia as a visiting scholar.  He recently completed an award winning dissertation "Hizballah in Lebanon: Al-Muqawamah (Resistance) as a Contra-Hegemonic Project” at Tel Aviv University.  His research interests include: Shiite political thought, radical Islamic movements, revolutionary thought in the Middle East, the Arab-Israeli Conflict, and new Marxism in the Middle East.

Abed was previously the co-director of the Equality Policy Department at Sikkuy—The Association for the Advancement of Civic Equality in Israel. He also headed communist member of parliament Dov Khenin’s staff and was the spokesperson of the Arab Center for Alternative Planning.

New Course: The Anthropology of Palestine

New Course: The Anthropology of Palestine

CPS Faculty Rhoda Kanaaneh is teaching the course "The Anthropology of Palestine" in the Spring 2018 term.

This course examines the relationship between different forms of knowledge about Palestinians and the political and social history of the region. It explores the complex interplay of state, ethnicity, gender, sexuality and class at both local and global levels in constructing what Palestine is and who Palestinians are. The course takes up diverse areas, from graphic novels to archaeological sites, from news reporting to hiking trails, to study how Palestine is created and recreated. Students will gain a familiarity with anthropological concepts and methodological approaches to Palestine. They will become familiar with aspects of the social organization, historical developments, and political events that have shaped the region over the last century. The course is also intended to develop students’ skills in written and oral communication, analysis, ethnographic observation, and critical thinking.

Reading Group: The Law of Occupation – Palestine/Israel

The Center for Palestine Studies and the Open University Project at Columbia Law School are pleased to announce the Spring 2018 Reading Group: The Law of Occupation – Palestine/Israel, facilitated by CPS faculty Katherine Franke.

This reading group will explore the legal, political and moral underpinnings and consequences of occupation, and will examine how international law defines and regulates occupation, and differentiates legal from illegal occupation and colonialism. The group will meet six times during the spring semester for 2 hours each session.

All interested members of the Columbia community are invited to email

Arcapita Visiting Professor Dr. Anaheed Al-Hardan

The Middle East Institute is pleased to welcome Anaheed Al-Hardan to Columbia University as the Arcapita Visiting Professor for the Spring 2018 semester. Anaheed Al-Hardan comes from the American University of Beirut where she is an Assistant Professor of Sociology in the Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Media Studies. She is the author of the award-winning Palestinians in Syria: Nakba Memories of Shattered Communities  (Columbia University Press, 2016),  joint winner of the 2016 Academic Book Award at the London Palestine Book Awards.