The Center for Palestine Studies at Columbia University is pleased to announce the sixth recipient of the Ibrahim Abu Lughod Award in Palestine Studies, Sobhi Samour. The award recognizes and seeks to foster innovative scholarship on issues related to Palestine and Palestinians. Sobhi will spend the 2017 Spring Semester at Columbia University working on a book project based on the dissertation he completed in the Department of Economics at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London.
Informed by a comparative political economy framework, his book project situates the Palestinian economy as determined by two intersecting forces - settler colonialism and neoliberalism. While scholarly analyses of Israeli domination and Palestinian self-rule have increasingly employed both categories and produced valuable insights, an analytical framework constructed by their dialectical relations and theoretical communalities has yet to materialize. The project aims to fill this gap and produce a comparative and interdisciplinary political economy of neoliberal self-rule under settler colonialism. Understood as strategies of class/race based forms of social engineering and population management, the research seeks to identify structural nodes of their intersection and show how the social and economic reproduction of Palestinian society is determined by settler colonialism and neoliberal logics of capitalism, governance and aid. It uses the concept of a 'surplus population' to theorize how both forces jointly contain, control and govern Palestinians within the realm of the economy. In broader terms, the book project challenges the sui generis approach with which Palestine (and Israel) continues to be analyzed and opens up possibilities of comparative research across indigenous communities subject to neoliberal forms of self-rule under conditions of settler colonial expansion.
Sobhi is currently a researcher at the Palestine Economic Policy Research Institute (MAS), Ramallah and has previously worked with UN development agencies in Geneva and Timor-Leste. He was born in Beirut and grew up in Germany where he also received his undergraduate training in economics before moving on to study at Birzeit University and obtaining an MSc degree in Political Economy of Development from SOAS. Among his publications are a co-edited special issue on Palestine in Settler Colonial Studies and co-authored critique of neoliberalism in the Palestinian Authority.
News of previous IAL fellows:
Lena Meari (Spring 2012) teaches in the Department of Social and Behavioral Science and the Women's Studies Institute at Birzeit University. She recently published "Reconsidering Trauma: Towards a Palestinian Community Psychology" in the Journal of Community Psychology (2015) and co-edited a book, Rethinking Gender in Revolutions and Resistance (2015 Zed Books).
Leena Dallasheh (Fall 2012) is assistant professor of history at Humboldt State University. She recently published "Troubled Waters: Citizenship and Colonial Zionism in Nazareth" in the International Journal of Middle East Studies (2015).
Mezna Qato (Spring 2014) is a Research Fellow at King's College, Cambridge and was just awarded both a Whiting Fellowship to work on a series of essays and a Yaddo residency in summer 2016 for her creative work.
Omar Tesdell (Spring 2015) is assistant professor of geography at Birzeit University. He recently published "Territoriality and the Technics of Drylands Science in Palestine and North America," in the International Journal of Middle East Studies (2015).
Areej Sabbagh-Khoury (Fall 2015) worked on her book manuscript, Colonization Practices and Interactions at the Frontier: Ha-Shomer Ha-Tzair Kibbutzim and the Surrounding Arab Villages at the Margins of the Valley of Jezreel/Marj Ibn 'Amer, 1936-1956. Her most recent publication is the second volume of the co-edited book, The Palestinians in Israel: A Guide to History, Politics, and Society (2015). She was awarded a Postdoctoral Fellowship at Brown University for 2016-2017.