Palestinian Studies

2014 Workshop

Sherene Seikaly

Assistant Professor, American University in Cairo

Social Man: Palestinian Capitalist and the Economy

This paper explores how Palestinian capitalists and thinkers formed ideas of welfare, standard of living, and economic development in the 1930s and 1940s. Such efforts were intimately linked to the growing pervasiveness of the discipline of economics, which colonial officials used during the Mandate years to manage and conceptualize colonies and people. They were also a strategic response to settler-colonialism; faced with relentless political exclusion, capitalists and reformers found refuge in the economic as a discrete realm. On one level, by looking at the 1930s and 1940s this paper explores the temporal boundaries of the liberal.  More importantly, it engages the importance of economic notions of a collective as constituting, alongside the much more studied centrality of nationalism, Arab liberal thought.

Sherene Seikaly is Assistant Professor of history and Director of the Middle East Studies Center at the American University in Cairo. She is the co-editor of the Arab Studies Journal, and co-founder and editor of Jadaliyya e-zine. She holds a doctorate in history and Middle Eastern and Islamic studies from New York University. Situated at the intersections of studies on consumption, political economy, and colonialism, Seikaly's forthcoming manuscript, Bare Needs: Palestinian Capitalists and British Colonial Rule explores how Palestinian capitalists and British colonial officials used economy to shape notions and experiences of territory, nationalism, the home, and the body.