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.
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.