Annoucing the fourth recipient of the Ibrahim Abu Lughod Award in Palestine Studies, Omar Imseeh Tesdell


The Center for Palestine Studies at Columbia University is pleased to announce the fourth recipient of the Ibrahim Abu Lughod Award in Palestine Studies, Omar Imseeh Tesdell. The award recognizes and seeks to foster innovative and ground-breaking scholarship on issues related to Palestine and Palestinians.

This award has been made possible by the generosity of Abdel Mohsin Al-Qattan, through the A.M. Qattan Foundation, in honor of his friend, the Palestinian scholar and intellectual, Ibrahim Abu-Lughod (1929-2001). Their close friendship began in the aftermath of the Nakbah of 1948 and evolved into a shared commitment to justice for Palestinians to be realized in part through support for excellence in higher education and scholarship.


Omar Imseeh Tesdell is Assistant Professor in the Department of Geography at Birzeit University. He will spend Spring 2015 at Columbia working on a book project based on his dissertation,Shadow Spaces: Territory, Sovereignty, and the Question of Palestinian Cultivation. A spatial history of Palestinian environmental and agricultural practice, the book explores the relationship between the work of cultivation and claims to land. Cultivation in the conventional sense is understood to be an abstract concept that allows institutions like the state to deploy technologies of control, whether through law, coercion, or agricultural development. Yet generally overlooked is an understanding of cultivation as the longstanding concrete practice of farmers to uphold collective claims to land. In contrast to a self-evident concept of cultivation, the practice of cultivation thus emerges as a flashpoint to consider the question of territory and sovereignty. As such, the book offers a spatial history of cultivation in Palestine and develops a theoretical understanding of it as constituted by both colonialism and oppositional political community arrayed around it.

Two works emerging from his research are forthcoming in edited volumes, one entitled “Land and the Question of Palestinian Cultivation” in New Directions in Palestinian Studies, and another entitled “On Naming and Being” in Being Palestinian: Personal Reflections on Palestinian Identity in the Diasporafrom Edinburgh University Press. Tesdell completed his Ph.D. in the Department of Geography at the University of Minnesota in 2013. His research has been supported by the Arab Council for Social Sciences (ACSS), Social Science Research Council (SSRC), Palestinian American Research Center (PARC), and the University of Minnesota.