Sunday, April 16, 2017

Reconstructed vs. Poststructural Palestine

The authors of this 2011 essay, "The Ethnographic Arriving of Palestine", Khaled Furani1 and Dan Rabinowitz, offer a thesis that

ethnographic engagement with Palestine since the nineteenth century [is]: biblical, Oriental, absent, and poststructural.

 They further claim that

the new admissibility of Palestine [as subjects of anthropological inquiry] is embedded in two interrelated epistemological-political conditions. First is the demystification of nations and the ethnic groups that formed them, and a corresponding surge in the legitimacy afforded to groups with counterclaims.

and they seek to propose 

an ethnography that draws upon postcolonial critique but goes beyond its common concerns..a future ethnography of Palestine could examine the theological underpinnings of the secular state, as a particular embodiment of sovereignty. To what extent does such a state enable cohabitation of people with different religions or with none at all? What are the regimes of tolerance that national sovereignty requires and how are they produced? How might the Palestinian notion of summud (persistence) address the prevalent devaluation of patience in classical and contemporary analyses of power?...How might Palestinian narratives of return (‘awdah) challenge the selfevident linearity of the secular sense of time?...Can the predicament of modern Palestinians help rehabilitate a forgotten vocabulary of social theory that includes idioms such as silence; invisibility, finitude; revelation, fate; exile, and absence? 

One definition of ethnography is "the recording and analysis of a culture or society, usually based on participant-observation and resulting in a written account of a people, place or institution" and another has it that ethnography is "a sociological method that explores how people live and make sense of their lives with one another in particular places. The focus might be on people and the meaning they produce through everyday interactions, or places, and the organizational logics that guide our activities."

The article does not mention identification as Southern Syria, or actions and practices that would continue to seek that ethnic identification.

An example I recently noticed is in the words of Hadash Party President, and former MK, an Mohammad Barakeh when he condemned the U.S. attack in Syria. As Haaretz reported, on his Facebook page he wrote: 

“the solution in Syria must be a diplomatic one, getting rid of ISIS terror and whoever supports it, maintaining the unity of Syria as a country and nation with all its constituent components.”

As a political scientist as well as a logical and rational person, I would suggest that the underlined phrase above contains an implicit recognition of the demand for the reconstruction, not a poststructural, of Greater Syria wherein the region of "Palestine", which never was a defined country in Arab/Islamic history, is considered but Southern Syria.

I would hope those who wrote this essay and those who have read it, take my suggestion into consideration.


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