Education, Occupation &Liberation Programme
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.
Land, Memory and Belonging: A conversation about art and education in Palestine with Vera Tamari
Discussant: Dr Yara Sharif, University of Westminster
Renowned Palestinian artist, art historian, educator and curator Vera Tamari discusses life, art and education in Palestine with architect, educator and former student, Dr Yara Sharif.
In this intimate and moving discussion Vera Tamari draws on her two acclaimed books, Intimate Reflections and Returning, to provide insights into how the history of her family, and that of the Palestinian people more widely, has moulded and influenced her work.
This is a 'must see' video for all those who love Tamari's art and pedagogical approach, and who recognise the profound impact of her work in, as Dr Sharif so compellingly describes, making Palestinians visible.
Maintaining Hope and Humanity in Gaza
Dr Yasser Abu Jamei, Director General, Gaza Community Mental Health Programme
Chair: Dr Martin Kemp, UK-Palestine Mental Health Network
Dr Abu Jamei's presentation combines hard data with individual stories of how the ongoing blockade and bombardment affect the lives and mental health of children, parents, and health practitioners in the Gaza Strip. His examples bring to life individuals and communities trying to maintain daily and family life in conditions of ongoing and repeated threat and destruction.
Within this landscape, Gaza's mental health practitioners use their skills to develop ways of instilling hope and offer support to repeatedly traumatised people.
In this conversation Dr Abu Jamei vividly describes the impact of the blockade and bombardment on the daily lives and mental health of the people of Gaza.
International Women's Day 2023: Women, Education and Empowerment in Palestine
Dr Samia Botmeh, Birzeit University
Dr Rania Jawad, Birzeit University
Chair: Dr Rafeef Ziadah, Kings College
Fobzu celebrated International Women's Day on 8th March, a day recognised by the United Nations since 1977 but with roots in the women’s and labour movements of the early 20th century. Co-hosted with the Department of International Development at King’s College in London, the event featured a panel discussion on Women, Education, and Empowerment, with three prominent Palestinian scholars representing diverse disciplinary backgrounds.
Rania Jawad, Director of the Institute of Women's Studies at Birzeit, shared her personal experience and reflections of navigating Israel's tightening restrictions on access to Palestine as an educator at Birzeit University. She also discussed her new study on transnational development projects that aim to tackle gender-based violence and how Palestinian artists, employed by international NGOS navigate projects that often frame gender-based violence as a problem culturally specific to the global south and in need of Western intervention.
In her talk, Rafeef Ziadah emphasised the importance of studying labour in Palestine for understanding the impact of Israeli settler colonialism, and explored avenues of solidarity and organising against it. Her recent study on Covid-19, Labour, and Trade Unions in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, revealed the devastating impact the pandemic had on Palestinian women workers but also showed signs of a revival of independent trade unionism seeking to overcome the fragmentation of Palestinian politics.
Isolating Palestinian Higher Education:
New restrictions on Palestinian universities under occupation
Professor Beshara Doumani, Birzeit University
Dr Hassan Jabareen, Adalah
Chair: Dr Donna Baillie, Fobzu
Professor Beshara Doumani is President of Birzeit University
Dr Hassan Jabareen is the Founding Director of Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel
Dr Donna Baillie is Chair of the Board of Trustees of Fobzu
Back to School Under Siege in Gaza 2021
Nuriya Oswald, Al Mezan International
Dr Nazmi Al Masri, Islamic University of Gaza
Chair: Dr Mark Griffiths, Newcastle University
As Palestinian students and academics in Gaza began the new academic year in the wake of another devastating war against the Strip, participants in this webinar discussed the impact of closure and the war on higher education in Gaza. Speakers shared the experience of students and lecturers studying and teaching as they face these challenges, and the sources of hope they draw upon as they pursue their education.
Dr Nazmi Al Masri is Associate Professor of Education at the Islamic University of Gaza. He received his PhD in education from Manchester University and is currently Co-Investigator on two research projects with UK universities. He has researched and published widely on language and pedagogy, and previously served as the Vice President for Foreign Affairs at the Islamic University.
Dr Mark Griffiths is a political geographer based at Newcastle University. His work in Palestine is focused on political and colonial power at various sites such as checkpoints, bureaucratic mechanisms and house demolitions. You can find Mark's work in journals such as Political Geography, Antipode and Society and Space.
Ecumenical Palestine, Colonialism and Education
Professor Ussama Makdisi, Rice University
Chair: Dr Mezna Qato, Cambridge University
Professor Ussama Makdisi's (Rice University) talk on 'Ecumenical Palestine, Colonialism and Education' challenges caricatures of the Arab world as a region dominated by age-old religious and ethnic sectarianism. Drawing from his new book ‘Age of Coexistence: The Ecumenical Frame and the Making of the Modern Arab World’ (2019, University of California Press), Professor Makdisi uncovers the origins and development of a rich culture of anti-sectarian pluralism in Palestine in the late Ottoman period which came under attack with the arrival of European colonialism. From British colonial education policy designed to train Palestinians solely for agricultural work and curtail their struggle for self-determination, to the Arab educationalists determined to foster an anti-colonial culture of coexistence, Professor Makdisi's talk sheds new light on this critical period of Palestinian and Arab education history.
Mezna Qato (Chair) is the Margaret Anstee Centre Fellow at Newnham College, Cambridge.
Beyond Decolonisation: Liberating the Study of the Arab World from the Gulf to Palestine
Professor Omar H. AlShehabi, Gulf Centre for Development Polices; Gulf University for Science and Technology
Chair: Dr Hicham Safieddene, Kings College London
Leading scholar of Gulf history and political economy Professor Omar H. AlShehabi discusses approaches to decolonising the study of the Arab world. Professor AlShehabi connects a wide range of themes including the British imperial imprint in the Gulf, the anti-colonial movements that emerged, and their linkages to the Palestinian liberation struggle in order to explore how their traditions challenge dominant perspectives of the Arab world and its peoples in the west and beyond.
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.
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.
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.
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
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).
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.
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'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.