Locating Nonviolence: the people, the past, and resistance in Palestinian political activism
Faubion, James D.
Doctor of Philosophy
This dissertation is an ethnographic investigation of political culture and contemporary activism in Palestine. I illustrate the entangled processes that enabled the discourse of nonviolence to flourish in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPTs) in the last ten years. I particularly explore the refashioning of the Palestinian Authority under the banner of a ‘state’ through intensive structural reforms that emphasize ‘security’ as a marker of political modernity and the dominant liberal hegemonic understanding of morality through a shifting global political context that impacts perceptions on political violence. In addition, the phenomenon of NGO-ization in the OPTs has functioned as a force of re-politicization through the construction of a new paradigm of ‘nonviolence’ to narrate the Palestinian history of struggle. I argue that in contrast to the hegemonic discourse of nonviolence, it is the question of mass-based participation that fuels the great nostalgia among Palestinian activists in the post-Oslo era for the experience of the first intifada. This study also addresses perceptions and practices of resistance that arise in response to the colonial modalities of control, analyzing the fusion of discursive processes that produced a new taxonomy of society under colonial control and the structural transformations of the material conditions of society. I ethnographically demonstrate how contemporary confrontation politics in the OPTs function in opposition to the logic of settler colonialism, where the primary focus of colonial subjugation is located in the land, on the body, and in political consciousness. Confrontational politics mobilizes around these same sites through the notion of dignity and the primacy of the land. I contextualize these discussions by examining representations of armed struggle that still prevail within local activism in the OPTs, particular through resistance song and literature, in connection to the history of the Palestinian national imaginary and the contemporary neoliberal economy and process of state-formation.
Nonviolence in Palestine; Violence; Political resistance; Settler-colonialism