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.