Education, Occupation & Liberation Programme
The Education, Occupation & Liberation programme marks Fobzu’s 40th anniversary and is co-hosted with the University and College Union (UCU).
The series of lectures and seminars brings together Palestinian, UK and international scholars, students and practitioners to explore the challenges facing Palestinian education and its role in creating a free and flourishing Palestine. Speakers consider the struggle of Palestinian students and educators, approaches to liberation education and the contribution of Palestine to decolonising curricula in the UK.
The Education, Occupation & Liberation programme is made possible thanks to the estate of the late Sarah Hayward.
Access to Education and Dignity for Palestinian Refugees
Christopher Gunness & Caroline Pontefract (UNRWA)
Chair: Dr Joanna de Groot, UCU President (2017-2018)
In the first of Fobzu’s Education, Occupation & Liberation events, UNRWA Chief Spokesperson Christopher Gunness, and Director of Education Dr Caroline Pontefract talk about UNRWA’s role in upholding the rights and dignity of 5 million Palestine refugees through the prism of the young people the agency serves in the West Bank, Gaza, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.
UNRWA was established in 1949 by the UN General Assembly to serve the Palestine refugees displaced during the Nakba of 1948. The agency’s mandate has been renewed repeatedly by the General Assembly pending a just and durable solution to the plight of the Palestine refugees. In January 2018 the US, UNRWA’s largest donor, announced major cuts to its funding of the agency throwing it into ‘existential crisis’. On 31st August the Trump administration officially announced an end to all US funding of UNRWA.
UNRWA’s vital role in upholding the rights and dignity of over 5 million Palestinian refugees, including its provision of education to over half a million children, is now imperilled by the US initiative.
Traditions of Liberation Education
Professor Karma Nabulsi, Oxford University
Chair: Professor Hugh Starkey, UCL
In this second lecture in Fobzu’s Education, Occupation & Liberation series, Professor Karma Nabulsi addresses the theme of decolonising education. Examining central questions on the requirements of a decolonisation process, Professor Nabulsi locates answers in the vast repository of anti-colonial struggles: the words, ideas, and practices of those who fought for liberation and equality, and against imperialism and colonialism. When looking at their endeavours, it is clear they succeeded by relying on common principles, building an internationalist solidarity with all who faced a common predicament, while possessing a language and a form of struggle that was remarkably creative in dealing with empire. In this lecture, Karma explores one of these remarkable struggles – that of the Palestinian revolution.
Professor Karma Nabulsi is Fellow in Politics at St Edmund Hall, and Director of Undergraduate Studies at the Department of Politics and IR (DPIR) at the University of Oxford. Her research and publications cover 18th and 19th C political thought, the laws of war, and the politics of Palestinian refugees and representation. In 2017 she completed the Palestinian Revolution, a bilingual Arabic/ English digital research and teaching resource on the Palestinian revolution from the 1950s to 1970s, which she directed and co-edited. Sponsored by the British Academy, and hosted at Oxford’s DPIR, the open access digital humanities resource was a collaborative initiative with museums, universities, research institutes, and scholars from across the global south. Last year Karma won the Guardian Higher Education Network’s ‘Inspiring Leader’ Award; she is UCU Equalities Officer at the university.
Palestinian universities under occupation and academic freedom
Dr Mezna Qato, Cambridge University
Professor Roger Heacock, Birzeit University
Dr Adam Hanieh, SOAS
In the third event of the Education, Occupation & Liberation series, Dr Mezna Qato, Professor Roger Heacock and Dr Adam Hanieh examine the continuity and change in structures of control imposed on Palestinian education over the past century and how this has been resisted by Palestinian students and teachers. The event takes place in the context of deteriorating conditions of access for Palestinian higher education under occupation, including
a recent wave of visa denials to foreign passport-holding faculty teaching at Palestinian universities. The speakers analyse these restrictions and locate them within the changing dynamics of the evolving colonial rule faced by the Palestinian people. This video includes the talks given by the first two panellists.
Dr Mezna Qato is a Junior Research Fellow at Kings College, Cambridge. She is writing a book on the history of education for Palestinians and is a trustee of Friends of Birzeit University (Fobzu).
Professor Roger Heacock taught European history at Birzeit University for over 35 years until the renewal of his visa was refused this summer. At Birzeit, he is a member of the Ibrahim Abu-Lughod Institute of International Studies and co-coordinates the Birzeit University Digital Palestinian Archive.
Dr Adam Hanieh is a Reader in Development Studies, at SOAS, University of London, who lived and worked in Ramallah, Palestine between 1997 and 2003. His most recent book is Money, Markets and Monarchies: The Gulf Cooperation Council and the Political Economy of the Contemporary Middle East (Cambridge University Press, 2018).
The Psychosocial Health of Palestinian Youth: Occupation and Resistance
Professor Rita Giacaman, Birzeit University
Chair: Professor Ann Phoenix, UCL
In our fourth EOL presentation Professor Rita Giacaman addresses the impact of prolonged military occupation on the wellbeing of young Palestinians. In exploring this issue, Professor Giacaman also considers the positive steps Palestinian youth take to resist the oppressive conditions they face. Decades of studying Palestinian psychosocial health has altered the ways Palestinian researchers have understood and measured wellbeing and these innovations are also addressed in the talk.
Professor Rita Giacaman is founder and Director of the Institute of Community and Public Health (ICPH) at Birzeit University in occupied Palestine. During her four decades of scholarship, she has become one of the leading authorities on Palestinian psychosocial wellbeing and public health. Her influential engagement as a researcher and practitioner in the Palestinian social action movement has led to the development of the Palestinian primary health care model. Since 2000, Professor Giacaman has focused on understanding the impact of chronic war-like conditions and excessive exposure to violence on the health and well-being of Palestinians, especially their psychosocial health under occupation; and ways in which interventions can generate active resilience and resistance, especially among youth. She has published her research widely in international journals and scholarly publications.
Education can be a source of alienation or an instrument of freedom
Dr Samah Jabr, Palestinian Ministry of Health
Chair: Gwyn Daniel, Tavistock Clinic
Samah Jabr, leading Palestinian psychiatrist, writer, and Chair of the Palestinian Mental Health Unit, opened the first event of 2019 in the Education, Occupation & Liberation series with a lecture on the colonial predicament facing the Palestinian people. The event was chaired by Gwyn Daniel, senior psychotherapist at the Tavistock Clinic.
The lecture, entitled ‘Alienation and Freedom: Education in the Struggle for National Liberation’, presented an examination of multiple dimensions of Palestinian alienation, contextualised within the political structure of colonialism, as experienced by Palestinians under occupation and in exile.
Dr Samah Jabr is a psychiatrist, psychotherapist, writer, and Chair of the Mental Health Unit at the Palestinian Ministry of Health. She has been writing since the late 1990s, and has chronicled the Palestinian daily experience in numerous articles and lectures. Her book ‘Derrière les fronts : chroniques d’une psychiatre psychothérapeute palestinienne sous occupation’ [Beyond the Frontlines: Columns from a Palestinian Psychiatrist and Psychotherapist under Occupation] was published by PMN Editions in 2018. A documentary film, also entitled ‘Derrière les fronts’ and produced by Alexandra Dols, was released in 2017.
Decolonising the Study of Palestine 71 Years after the Nakba
Professor Abdel Razzaq Takriti, University of Houston
Chair: Professor Karma Nabulsi, Oxford University
Award-winning scholar of modern Palestinian and Arab history, Professor Abdel Razzaq Takriti, provides an overview and critique of some of the influential frameworks that have governed the study of Palestine in the western academy. In this talk he argues instead for a liberationist approach, recognising the structural reality of colonialism while centring the Palestinian people and their collective struggle for self-determination and return.
Abdel Razzaq Takriti (D.Phil., Oxford University) is Associate Professor and the inaugural holder of the Arab-American Educational Foundation Chair in Modern Arab History at the University of Houston. An expert on anticolonialism, revolutions, and transnational movements in Palestine and the Arab world, he is the author of the award-winning book, Moonsoon Revolution: Republicans, Sultans, and Empires in Oman, 1965-1976 (Oxford University Press, 2013; paperback edition 2016), and the co-author and co-editor, with Professor Karma Nabulsi, of The Palestinian Revolution website (Oxford University Department of Politics and International Relations, 2017). Professor Takriti’s opinion pieces have appeared in a variety of English and Arabic media outlets including The Guardian, Aljazeera English, Al-Ahram Weekly, Jadaliyya and al-Quds al-Arabi.