Birds Without Wings: An Exploration into the Relationship Between Orientalism, Liberal Peacebuilding, Resistance, and Masculinities in the West Bank

Title: Birds Without Wings: An Exploration into the Relationship Between Orientalism, Liberal Peacebuilding, Resistance, and Masculinities in the West Bank
Authors: Swan, Emma
Date: 2022-08-03
Abstract: The image of a kufiyah-clad Palestinian teenage boy brandishing a stone laden slingshot, facing-off against an Israeli tank, has long pervaded images of Palestinian resistance around the globe. Notwithstanding the disparity in might, and the legitimate discussion around whether wielding a slingshot when faced by a tank should indeed be considered armed resistance in the first place, this dissertation explores the Orientalist shaping of Palestinian resistance and its repercussions for Palestinian men engaged in resistance. In the aftermath of the Oslo Accords, at an unprecedented rate, international aid flowed into Palestine under the pretexts of peacebuilding and statebuilding. Deeply embedded within the liberal peace paradigm, some of this funding went towards interventions targeting Palestinian civil society and the promotion of 'nonviolence'. We know from other examples around the world, donor interventions targeting the political, economic, and social spheres of recipient countries have profound impacts outside of their stated goals. And while this has been noted by scholars in Palestine and beyond, what remains underexplored is the way that these interventions, and the embedded frameworks, discourses, and ideologies, have shaped both the unarmed resistance movement within Palestine, and more specifically, the individual social and cultural lives of those engaged in resistance. There is no way to explore, debate, or even talk about armed and unarmed resistance without first asking how the terms are defined and positioned within a particular framework. Here I find Orientalism, critical feminist theory, and critical peacebuilding literature useful perspectives from which to survey the shifting terrain of Palestinian unarmed resistance in the post-Oslo era and the subsequent shaping of male identity within the resistance movement. This dissertation answers the calls of post-colonial academics for the need to engage in resistance research that aims to understand resistance from the perspective of those who are resisting. At the same time, this dissertation challenges straightjacketed links between representation and domination by expanding our understanding of the role of Orientalist narratives in the Palestinian resistance movement. It argues that Palestinian men engaged in resistance are not just screens on which donors and CSOs/NGOs project their narratives of violent Arabs in need of civilizing (through the adoption of nonviolence). Rather, Palestinians too represent themselves in different ways, conceiving a gendered sense of self in social, public and political spaces. Such contested practices of representation produce cracks and dislocations in understandings of identity, agency, structure, and power in conflict contexts.
CollectionThèses, 2011 - // Theses, 2011 -

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