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Spring 2016

Palestine Re-Covered: Reading a Settler Colonial Landscape

Thursday February 11, 2016
Jerome Greene Hall, Room 102B
Columbia Law School
435 W 116th Street

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.

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.

Abdul-Rahim Al-Shaikh is a poet and academic born in Jerusalem to a Palestinian refugee family from Ramlah. He is an associate professor of philosophy and cultural studies at Birzeit University. Al-Shaikh's work is focused on cultural representations and the politics of Palestinian identity, in addition to his works on Arab poetry, art criticism, and translation. He earned his Ph.D. in Middle East and Arab Studies at the University of Utah, after which he conducted his postdoctoral research in cultural mobility in near-eastern cultures at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin. Since 2004, he has been a fellow at both Muwatin-The Palestinian Institute for the Study of Democracy and the Institute of Palestine Studies. Al-Shaikh is currently a Fulbright Visiting Senior Scholar at the Center for Palestine Studies at Columbia University researching "The Palestinian Living Cemetery." His last book is: The Biography of Gabi Baramki and His Odyssey at Birzeit University 1929-2012 (2015/Arabic).

Areej Sabbagh-Khoury is the Ibrahim Abu-Lughod Post-Doctoral Fellow at Columbia University, Center for Palestine Studies. She is also an associate researcher at Mada al-Carmel - The Arab Center for Applied Social Research. Her current book project examines relations between members of leftist Zionists kibbutzim and Palestinian villagers in Northern Palestine within a settler colonial framework. Sabbagh-Khoury completed her Ph.D. in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Tel Aviv University. She contributed to several book chapters and articles on citizenship, memory, gender and settler colonialism, among them "Palestinian Predicaments: Jewish Immigration and Refugees Repatriation." She also co-edited two volumes of The Palestinians in Israel: A Guide to History, Politics, and Society: the first volume was published in 2011 and the second on December 2015 (both volumes were published in English, Hebrew and Arabic). She has received several awards and grants for her research, among them the Fulbright Post-doctoral Scholar Award year 2015-2016 and the Inaugural Post-doctoral Fellowship in Palestine and Palestinian Studies at Brown University 2016-2017.

With introduction by Rashid Khalidi, Edward Said Professor of Modern Arab Studies, History Department Chair, and Co-Director of the Center for Palestine Studies.

Sponsored by the Center for Palestine Studies.

This event is free and open to the public.


Film Screening followed by Q&A with Director Kamal Aljafari
Moderated by Hamid Dabashi
Monday February 22, 2016
World Room, Columbia Journalism School
2950 Broadway, at 116th Street

Masterclass by Kamal Aljafari
In Conversation with Hamid Dabashi
Tuesday February 23, 2016
Schermerhorn 612
1190 Amsterdam Ave, Columbia University

Palestinian director Kamal Aljafari will screen his film Recollection and offer a master class the following evening.

Hamid Dabashi, renowned film expert and Hagop Kevorkian Professor of Iranian Studies and Comparative Literature at Columbia University, will moderate the two evenings.

Recollection utilizes footage from Israeli films as raw material for exploring, reconstructing, and sharing this inaccessible history:

"For many years, I have been collecting Israeli fiction films shot in Jaffa as early as 1960. These are films in which Palestinians are disappeared, yet also exist at the edge of frames, visible in traces. Preserved also is a city; alive again in moving images, its gradual destruction over the decades chronicled film by film. From the footage of dozens of films I have excavated a whole community and recreated the city. Though out-of-focus, half-glimpsed, I have recognized childhood friends, old people I used to say good evening to as a boy; my uncle. I erased the actors, I photographed the backgrounds and the edges; and made the passersby the main characters of this film. In my film, I find my way from the sea, like in a dream. I walk everywhere, sometimes hesitant and sometimes lost. I wander through the city; I wander through the memories. I film everything I encounter because I know it no longer exists. I return to a lost time."
- Kamal Aljafari

"Kamal Aljafari is the chronicler of the inchronicable, visionary of the faded out. Somewhere between the early Luis Bunuel and Salvador Dali (Un Chien Andalou) and the late Mani Kaul's entire magnificent oeuvre, in his new film, Recollection, Kamal Aljafari has tapped on a disquieting vision of the ruins and debris in material and memorial, pushing as he does his previous work forward by leaps and bounds. The significance of this work is manifold, achieving two contradictory tasks in particular: dismounting the omniscient camera and staging the relic. By allowing the memory to stage and announce itself, an enduring philosophical task made essential as early as in Walter Benjamin's prophetic turn to relics and ruins in his theory of allegory, Aljafari wonders: who is watching, who is watching the watcher, and by what authority? The damning question-Quis custodiet ipsos custodies-is here staged with astonishing confidence and ease, with the threadbare power of a visionary artist taking the instrumentality of his own art to task. The result is uncanny - you feel you have been there - but where, when, how, and now what?"
-Hamid Dabashi

Professor Dabashi is a renowned film expert, and the founder of Dreams of a Nation, a Palestinian Film Project, which is dedicated to preserving and safeguarding Palestinian cinema. Dabashi has organized Palestinian film festivals both in Palestine and the United States and is on the advisory board of a number of other Palestinian film festivals worldwide. His edited volume, Dreams of a Nation: On Palestinian Cinema was the first major multi-author treatment of the subject.

This event is part of the Center for Palestine Studies art initiative, Palestine Cuts.

Free and open to the public.

RSVP on Facebook.

Watch the trailer

Palestine Cuts is a new space for emerging and established filmmakers and video-artists to present and discuss their work in an engaging and encouraging environment. It promotes stimulating audiovisual projects (documentary and fiction film, video, installations, etc.) that challenge existing conventions and offer critical and alternative views about Palestine and Palestinians. Palestine Cuts also is interested in the broader regional and global socio-political, economic and cultural context of which Palestine is an intrinsic part. In this sense, we hope to bring Palestine-related work into conversation with other Arab and international filmmakers and audiovisual artists. Through screenings, discussions, master classes as well as open and closed workshops for work in progress and finished projects, Palestine Cuts hopes to attract a wide array of artists, producers, curators, critics, scholars, activists and others interested in committed audiovisual work that opens up new spaces for imagination.

Other Events

    SPRING 2016

  • ARABS IN LITERATURE & FILM, Nathalie Handal, CSER W3970
    Monday 2:10 PM - 4:00 PM, Call Number: 11512
  • ARABIC SELF-NARRATIVES, Muhsin Al-Musawi, G4226
    Wednesday 4:10pm-6:00pm, Call Number: 25948
  • CINEMA & SOC IN ASIA & AFRICA, Hamid Dabashi, W4031
    Thursday 2:40pm-3:55pm, Call Number: 763466
    Tuesday 2:10pm-4:00pm, Call Number: 73928
  • ISLAMIC LAW, Brinkley Messick, W4282
    Friday 10:10am-12:00pm, Call Number: 26862
  • WRITTEN CULTURE, Brinkley Messick, W4172
    Tuesday 2:10pm-4:00pm, Call Number: 20190
  • LEGALIZING SOCIAL MOVEMENTS, Katherine Franke with Emilio Dabed (Palestine & Law Fellow), L8285
    Tuesday 4:20pm-6:10pm, Call Number: 13249
  • FALL 2015

  • ARABIA IMAGINED, Brinkley Messick, V3933
    Tuesday 2:10pm-4:00pm, Call Number: 97598
  • MODERN ARABIC NOVELS, Moneera Al-Ghadeer, W3929
    Tuesday 4:10pm-6:00pm, Call Number: 61786
    Tuesday and Thursday 8:40am-9:55am, Call Number: 63866
    Tuesday and Thursday 4:10pm-5:25pm, Call Number: 64506
  • ARABIC PRISON WRITING, Muhsin Al-Musawi ,W3928
    Thursday 2:10pm-4:00pm, Call Number: 11073
  • ARAB WOMEN NOVELISTS, Moneera Al-Ghadeer, G4236
    Monday 4:10pm-6:00pm, Call Number: 88784
  • ARAB CITIES IN EVOLUTION, Ziad Jamaleddine and Amale Andraos, A6454
    Monday 11:00am-1:00pm, Call Number: 11446

  • Past Courses

    SPRING 2015

    Wednesday 2:10 PM - 4:00 PM, Call Number: 62048
  • ARABS IN LITERATURE & FILM, Nathalie Handal, CSER W3970
    Monday 2:10 PM - 4:00 PM, Call Number: 20866
  • FALL 2014

  • MODERN HISTORY OF PALESTINE, Rashid Khalidi, G9713
    Tuesday 2:10 PM - 4:00 PM, Call Number: 69394
  • SPRING 2014

    Monday and Wednesday 1:10pm-2:25pm, Call Number: 60591
    Thursday 6:10 PM - 8:00 PM, Call Number: 24581
  • ARABS IN LITERATURE & FILM, Nathalie Handal, CSER W3970
    Monday 2:10 PM - 4:00 PM, Call Number: 27392
    Tuesday 9:00 AM - 10:50 AM, Call Number: 71647
  • NATIONALISM IN THE ARAB WORLD, Rashid Khalidi, History G9701
    Tuesday 2:10 PM - 4:00 PM, Call Number: 11742
  • FALL 2013

  • THE COLONIAL ENCOUNTER, Ahmad Sadiya, Middle East W3250
    Tuesday & Thursday 11:40 AM - 12:55 PM, Call Number: 64036
  • PALESTINIANS-ISRAEL 1948-2013, Ahmad Sadiya, Middle East G4256
    Friday 11 AM - 12:50 PM, Call Number: 63149
  • SPRING 2013

  • THE ANTHROPOLOGY OF PALESTINE, Mayssoun Succarrie, Anthropology V3887
    Monday 11am-12:50pm, Call Number: 23322
  • ISLAMIC MOVEMENTS IN THE MIDDLE EAST, Rashid Khalidi, History G8701
    Tuesday 2:10-4:00pm, Call Number: 62841
    Tuesday 11:00am-12:50pm, Call Number: 77356
  • THE LAW OF OCCUPATION, Katherine Franke & Dean Spade, Law L8993
    Tuesday 4:20pm-6:10pm, Call Number: 60797
    Monday 4:20pm-6:10pm, Call Number: 80537
  • FALL 2012

  • MODERN HISTORY OF PALESTINE, Rashid Khalidi, History G9713
    Tuesday 2:10-4:00 PM, Call Number: 72343
  • HISTORY OF THE MOD MIDDLE EAST, Rashid Khalidi, History W3719
    Tuesday/Thursday 8:40-9:55 AM, Call Number: 20904
  • PARADIGMS: GENDER, CULTURE, Lila Abu-Lughod, Women's Studies G6001
    Monday 4:10-6:00 PM, Call Number: 23766
  • THRY & METHODS-MID EAST & ASIA, Timothy Mitchell, Middle East G4000
    Monday 4:10-6:00 PM, Call Number: 18453
  • THEORY,HIST,PRAC OF HUM RIGHTS, Mahmood Mamdani, International Affairs U8172
    Tuesday 4:10-6:00 PM, Call Number: 91199
  • THE INTERPRETATION OF CULTURE, Brinkley Messick, Anthropology V1002
    Tuesday/Thursday 10:10-11:25 AM, Call Number: 74178
  • WRITTEN CULTURE, Brinkley Messick, Anthropology W4172
    Wednesday 2:10-4:00 PM, Call Number: 61450
  • THEORIES & CULTURE: MID EAST/S, Gil Anidjar, Middle East W3005
    Wednesday 2:10-4:00 PM, Call Number: 19762
  • SPRING 2012

  • Anthropology V3887
    The Anthropology of Palestine, Section 001, Call Number: 87282, Points: 4
    Instructor: Rhoda A Kanaaneh
    Day/Time: W 2:10pm-4:00pm
  • Anthropology G6602
    Questions in Anthropological Theory II: Texts, Section 001, Call Number: 03136, Points: 3
    Instructor: Nadia Abu-El-Haj
    Day/Time: R 2:10pm-4:00pm
  • Asian Civilization: Middle East V2008
    Contemporary Islamic Civilization, Section 001, Call Number: 88397, Points: 4
    Instructor: George Saliba
    Day/Time: MW 2:40pm-3:55pm
  • Religion V2305
    Islam, Section 001, Call Number: 27646, Points: 3
    Instructor: Peter Awn
    Day/Time: MW 5:40pm-6:55pm
  • Religion V3314
    The Qur'an: A Comparative Perspective, Section 001, Call Number: 00350, Points: 3
    Instructor: Najam Haider
    Day/Time: MW 1:10pm-2:25pm
  • Anthropology W4282
    Islamic Law, Section 001, Call Number: 19699, Points: 3
    Instructor: Brinkley Messick
    Day/Time: F 10:00am-12:00pm
  • Comparative Literature: Middle East G4228
    Revolution In Arabic: Lit-War, Section 001, Call Number: 72750, Points: 3
    Instructor: Muhsin Al-Musawi
    Day/Time: W 11:00am-12:50pm
  • Comparative Literature: Middle East G4228
    Islamic Context Arabian Nights, Section 001, Call Number: 13450, Points: 3
    Instructor: Muhsin Al-Musawi Day/Time: R 11:00am-12:50pm
  • History W3705
    Modern Egypt, Section 001, Call Number: 70952, Points: 3
    Instructor: Marwa Elshakry
    Day/Time: TR 1:10pm-2:25pm
  • History W47555
    Oil & History of Arab Gulf States, Section 001, Call Number: 28252, Points: 4
    Instructor: Rosie Bsheer
    Day/Time: R 11:00am-12:50pm
  • Middle East G4760
    Shi'ites and Shi'ism, Section 001, Call Number: 92898, Points: 3
    Instructor: Hamid Dabashi
    Day/Time: W 2:10pm-4:00pm
  • Religion W4335
    Shi'ism, Section 001, Call Number: 07862, Points: 4
    Instructor: Najam Haider
    Day/Time: W 4:10pm-6:00pm
  • Comparative Literature: Middle East G6020
    Colonialism, Section 001, Call Number: 63534, Points: 3
    Instructor: Timothy Mitchell
    Day/Time: F 11:00am-12:50pm
  • International Affairs U6712
    Political Islam, Section 001, Call Number: 96598, Points: 3
    Instructor: Ousmane Kane
    Day/Time: T 2:10pm-4:00pm
  • Middle East G6600
    Postcolonial Theory, Section 001, Call Number: 77201, Points: 3
    Instructor: Hamid Dabashi, Mamadou Diouf
    Day/Time: W 11:00am-12:50pm
  • FALL 2011

  • Anthropology W4277
    ANTHROP OF THE MID EAST (Call No. 04002). 3 points.
    Thursday, 2:10-4:00 PM, 307 Milbank Hall (Barnard)
    Instructor: Nadia Abu El-Haj
  • Anthropology V3465
    WOMEN, GENDER POL-MUSLIM WORLD (Call No. 88447). 3 points.
    Monday/Wednesday, 11:00 AM-12:15 PM, 413 Kent Hall
    Instructor: Lila Abu-Lughod
  • Middle East W3000
    THEOR-CULTURE: MID EAST/S ASIA (Call No. 87097). 4 points.
    Tuesday/Thursday, 2:10-4:00 PM, 313 Fayerweather
    Instructor: Gil Anidjar
  • Religion W4330
    SEMINAR ON CLASSICAL SUFI TEXTS (Call No. 53346). 4 points.
    Friday, 11:00-12:50 AM, 401 Hamilton Hall
    Instructor: Peter Awn
  • Political Science W4445 (Barnard)
    PLTCS MID EAST & NORTH AFRICA (Call No. 02425). 3 points.
    Tuesday/Thursday, 10:35-11:50 AM, 504 Diana Center
    Instructor: Mona El-Ghobashy
  • Middle East W3923
    CNTRL QUESTIONS IN ISLAMIC LAW (Call No. 96099). 3 points.
    Tuesday, 2:10-4:00 PM, 103 Knox Hall
    Instructor: Wael Hallaq
  • Fall 2011 CSER W3970
    Instructor: Nathalie Handal
    Tuesday, 2:10-4:00 PM, 420 Hamilton Hall
    This course explores contemporary Palestinian culture, history, and society through literature and theater produced by Palestinian writers and playwrights, including those in the West Bank, Israel, other Arab countries, and the West. The course will examine Palestinianess, looking at the various cultural and socio-political issues prevalent in plays, poetry, non-fiction and fiction. Discussions revolve around styles and aesthetics as well as identity and cultural politics. Students will also read critical and theoretical works in order to better help them understand the works. Some of the writers the class will cover include, Mahmoud Darwish, Faqwa Tuqan, Sayed Kashua, Mourid Barghouti, and Naomi Shihab Nye.
  • History W3719
    HISTORY OF THE MOD MIDDLE EAST (Call No. 53496). 3 points.
    Tuesday/Thursday, 9:10-10:25 AM, 417 International Affairs Building
    Instructor: Rashid Khalidi
  • History G8712
    U.S.,MID EAST & THE COLD WAR (Call No. 27779). 4 points.
    Tuesday, 2:10-4:00 PM, 208 Knox Hall
    Instructor: Rashid Khalidi
  • Anthropology - Middle East G6406
    THE MOD ST & THE COLONIAL SUBJ (Call No. 71502). 4 points.
    Monday, 4:10-6:00 PM, 963 Schermerhorn
    Instructor: Mahmood Mamdani
  • Anthropology V3933
    ARABIA IMAGINED (Call No. 60800). 4 points.
    Friday, 10:00-12:00 PM, 467 Schermerhorn Hall
    Instructor: Brinkley Messick
  • Middle East W3260
    RETHINKING MIDDLE EAST POLITCS (Call No. 92597). 3 points.
    Monday/Wednesday, 2:40-3:55 PM, 103 Knox Hall
    Instructor: Timothy Mitchell
  • Middle East G4261
    ISLAM ON THE STREET (Call No. 84700). 3 points.
    Wednesday, 11:00-12:50 PM, 403 Knox Hall
    Instructor: Muhsin Al-Musawi
  • Middle East G4228
    REVOLUTION IN ARABIC:LIT-WAR (Call No. 62283). 3 points.
    Thursday, 11:00-12:50 PM, 403 Knox Hall
    Instructor: Muhsin Al-Musawi
  • Middle East V2003
    INTRO TO ISLAMIC CIVILIZATION (Call No. 61497). 4 points.
    Monday/Wednesday, 2:40-3:55 PM, 501 Schermerhorn Hall
    Instructor: George Saliba
  • SPRING 2011

  • Middle East W4053
    Instructor: Salim Tamari
  • Middle East G6225
    Instructor: Salim Tamari
  • Anthropology V3887
    Instructor: Rhoda Kanaaneh
  • English BC3149
    Instructor: Bashir Abu-Manneh
    Tuesday & Thursday, 2:40-3:55 PM, Room TBA The significance of colonial encounter, statehood, and dispossession in Palestinian and Israeli cultures from 1948 to the present, examined in a range of cultural forms: poetry, political tracts, cinema, fiction, memoirs, and travel writing. Authors include: Darwish, Grossman, Habibi, Khalifeh, Khleifi, Kanafani, Oz, Shabtai, Shalev, and Yehoshua.
  • FALL 2010

  • History G8716
    POLTICS OF TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION IN THE MIDDLE EAST; Politics of Truth and Reconciliation in the Middle East; 4 points
    Instructor: Thomas Hill
    W 2:10-4, 311 Fayerweather.
  • SPRING 2010

  • History G9713
    Instructor: Rashid Khalidi
    Tuesday 2:10pm-4:00pm 208 KNOX HALL.