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Past is Present: Settler Colonialism in Palestine

In their 7th annual conference in London, entitled ‘Past is Present: Settler Colonialism in Palestine’, the SOAS (School of Oriental and Aftrican Studies) Palestine Society have chosen to focus on the theme of ‘settler colonialism’, both in terms of its history and its ongoing relevance as a point of focus in the struggle for justice in Israel-Palestine.

Jewish settlements in Palestine/Israel 1918, 1948, 1967, 2000

Jewish population centres in Palestine/Israel 1918, 1948, 1967, 2000 (adapted from Malkit Shoshan, Vitala Tauz)

The organisers argue that whilst this continuing phenomenon remains the dominant ideological force shaping the contemporary spatio-political reality of Israel-Palestine, the mainstream Palestinian political discourse has taken a dramatic shift away from its historic alignment with the international anti-colonial struggle. They ask:

… when exactly did Palestinian natives find themselves in a “post-colonial”
condition? When did the ongoing struggle over land become a
“post-conflict” situation? When did Israel become a “post-Zionist”
society? And when did the fortification of Palestinian ghettos and
reservations become “state-building”?

Consequently, the conference represents a conscious attempt to re-frame the narrative, seeking to:

… break open frameworks binding Palestine, re-align the Palestinian movement within a universal history of decolonisation, and imagine new possibilities for Palestinian resistance, solidarity and common struggle.

The Zionist land regime, Jewish-owned land 1918, 1947, Israeli 'state land' 1960, 2002

The Zionist land regime, Jewish-owned land 1918, 1947, Israeli 'state land' 1960, 2002 (adapted from Malkit Shoshan, Eyal Weizman)

The two day conference, taking place 5th-6th March 2011 at the SOAS Brunei Gallery in central London,  will include contributions from an international field of scholars and activists including Ilan Pappe, Naseer Aruri, Patrick Wolfe, Eyal Weizman and Lorenzo Veracini.

The second day of the conference, broadly following the theme of the keynote “On Self-Determination, Decolonization and Resistance” (a conversation with Omar Barghouti and Rabah Mohanna), promises a more ‘activist’ dialogue, focusing on concrete approaches to towards ‘decolonization’.

A full programme for both days of the conference, along with more information for those in the UK interested in attending, can be found at www.soaspalsoc.org

David Ben Gurion reads the Israeli 'Declaration of Independence' in Tel Aviv, 1948

David Ben Gurion reads the Israeli 'Declaration of Independence' in Tel Aviv on 14th May 1948 (Zoltan Kluger)

(Quotations are published with permission from the SOAS Palestine Society Organizing Collective. Illustrations by arenaofspeculation.org, adapted from original surveys and mappings by Malkit Shoshan, Vitala Tauz and Eyal Weizman.)

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