Palestinian Studies

2023 Workshop

The Palestinian Revolutionary Tradition and Global Anti-Colonialism

Palestinian Studies Workshop 2023, Brown University

The eighth annual workshop of New Directions in Palestinian Studies (NDPS) will be held at Brown University on March 10-11, 2023. The theme title “The Palestinian Revolutionary Tradition and Global Anti-Colonialism” addresses a wide range of issues detailed below. 

If you are interested in presenting an original unpublished paper, please submit a proposal of approximately 500 words along with a brief CV via this form by January 5, 2023. Selected participants will be notified by January 10, 2023, and asked to submit a full-length paper of 4,000–7,000 words by March 5, 2023, for pre-circulation. Panels will be organized around themes that emerge from the papers. We plan to help publish selected papers in relevant major scholarly fora.

As with all NDPS workshops, proposals that put Palestinians at the center of the analysis are encouraged. We seek explorations of Palestinian experiences of different historical periods and locations throughout historic Palestine and outside it, from the perspectives of various academic disciplines as well as practitioners.

Venue: Joukowsky Forum, Watson Institute 
By invitation
With generous support from Brown University's Mahmoud Darwish Chair in Palestinian Studies. 


Palestine boasts one of the most vibrant anti-colonial revolutionary traditions in modern history. Its zenith was reached during the high decades of national liberation movements in the 1960s and 1970s, but its beginnings date back to the early 20th century with the onset of British imperial rule, and its significance persists to the present era of settler-colonial dominance. Its influence extended well beyond the boundaries of Palestine, playing a key role in generating revolutionary thought and action across the Arab region, the Middle East, and the global south as a whole. This workshop explores the historic and contemporary manifestations of this tradition, examining its past trajectories as well as its future horizons within the boundaries of historic Palestine as well as in the exilic spaces of the shatat. The workshop also seeks to probe this tradition’s global influences, interconnections, and impact, shedding light on the important role that Palestinians played in the Arab, Middle Eastern, Islamic, Afro-Asian, tricontinental, and western revolutionary and solidarity spheres. 

The Palestinian anti-colonial revolutionary tradition has influenced the national histories of all the countries bordering historic Palestine, as well as Iraq, the Arabian Peninsula, and the Maghreb. It has played a substantial role in the development of Turkish, Iranian, and Kurdish radicalism. It had fraternal transnational relationships and affiliations with struggles across Africa, Asia, and Latin America; and it has generated debates, engagements, and transformations in leftist, socialist, and progressive circles, including in Europe and North America. Palestinian anti-colonial ideas and practices have stretched the limits of liberal ideologies and confronted relentless conservative backlashes across the world. They have also challenged the full range of global governance structures as well as the international human rights and legal orders and generated epistemological conversations across a range of fields and theories, from postcolonialism to comparative settler-colonial studies. Likewise, the Palestinian anti-colonial revolutionary tradition has drawn on a range of synchronic and diachronic Arab and global experiences, from Algeria to South Africa, Vietnam to Cuba.  

This subject invites a set of questions that are of import not only for Palestine and the Palestinians, but also for other lands and peoples that have been faced with similar dilemmas of national liberation. Some of these questions are conceptual. Although the idea of political traditions has been widely utilized in scholarship, its analytical presence in tricontinental anti-colonial settings in general, and the Palestinian context in particular, has been limited. Only a handful of Palestinian theorists, notably Karma Nabulsi, have seriously engaged with it. In this light, what is a political tradition, and why is this concept relevant for the study of revolution and anti-colonialism? What makes a revolutionary tradition anti-colonial and what makes an anti-colonial tradition revolutionary? More specifically to Palestine, what are the practices, ideologies, networks, institutions, economies, and social relations that undergirded Palestinian revolutionary anti-colonialism? What are the continuities and disjunctures that have characterized this tradition? Did it take different forms in the era of British occupation, the early years following the Nakba, the PLO fida’i decades, and the post-Oslo period? How can we account for this tradition’s widely varying temporal and geographic manifestations as well as its south-south relations and solidarities? Given the pluralism of Palestinian civic and party life, how should we analyze the intersections connecting, and contradictions dividing, different Palestinian revolutionary strands? Is the notion of revolution (thawra)- primarily associated with fida’i action in the 1960s and 1970s as well as with the Great Revolt of 1936-39- distinguishable from more widely circulated terms in subsequent eras such as steadfastness (summud) and resistance (muqawama)? 

Moreover, how can we discuss Palestinian revolutionary anti-colonial cultural production in a manner that is grounded in its regional specificities all the while elaborating its tricontinental and transnational global contexts? Is it possible to address the challenges that confronted, and the limits that constrained, Palestinian revolutionary anti-colonialism without overshadowing its achievements? What are the specific methodological, discursive, political, and archival obstacles that are faced by researchers working on this tradition? Does this tradition afford us a useful vantage point from which to approach the struggles of refugees, stateless populations, and people under colonial rule? Can it offer new avenues for feminist inquiry? In what ways can the lenses of gender, class, race, and indigenous struggle be used to reflect on this tradition’s political, social, and historical contours? Can the tensions and alliances within the revolutionary struggle be justly accounted for without easy dismissal or retort to discursive determinism? How can we generate frameworks for studying Palestinian revolutionary anti-colonialism that can avoid the pitfalls of teleology, presentism, and colonial policing of anti-colonial knowledge?

Format and Logistics

The 2023 New Directions in Palestinian Studies (NDPS) workshop calls for papers that creatively engage these and the myriad other questions about revolution and anti-colonialism. The workshop format facilitates intellectual exchange via pre-circulated papers, brief presentations, and extended discussions in panels over a two-day period. Invited senior and mid-career scholars usually chair panels and/or participate in discussions, while most presentation slots are reserved for early career scholars. If you are interested in presenting an original unpublished paper, please submit a proposal of approximately 500 words along with a brief CV via this form by January 5, 2023Selected participants will be notified by January 10, 2023, and asked to submit a full-length paper of 4,000–7,000 words by March 5, 2023, for pre-circulation. Panels will be organized around themes that emerge from the papers. We plan to help publish selected papers in relevant major scholarly fora. 

Middle East Studies at Brown will reimburse reasonable travel expenses and two nights lodging (three nights for those coming from overseas) for paper presenters and discussants. For those traveling from abroad, please keep in mind that reimbursement is possible only for those entering the United States on a Visa Waiver Business (VWB) or B-1 visa. Please direct any questions to

About NDPS

Over the past generation, the field of Palestine and Palestinian studies has grown rapidly, attracting some of the best and brightest scholars. NDPS provides a platform for new lines of inquiry that seek to decolonize, globalize, and de-exceptionalize knowledge production about the Palestinians. Launched in 2012 as a research initiative of Brown University’s Middle East Studies program, NDPS is dedicated to supporting the work and careers of emerging scholars through annual workshops, an endowed post-doctoral fellowship, and a book series. NDPS workshops—“Who Owns Palestine?” (2020), “Palestinian Homes and Houses: Subjectivities and Materialities” (2019), “The Shadow Years: Material Histories of Everyday Life” (2018), “The Politics of Archives and the Practices of Memory” (2017), “Approaches to Research on Palestinian and the Palestinians” (2016), “Political Culture and the Culture of Politics” (2015), and “Political Economy and the Economy of Politics” (2014)—have earned a reputation for frank and rigorous discussions that bring together three generations of scholars. Ultimately, the discussions consider the intellectual, ethical, and moral stakes of new research agendas in Palestinian Studies and the political spaces they open and foreclose.