Online book-talk, November 24: Somdeep Sen, Decolonizing Palestine

When: Wednesday November 24, 18h (Sydney), 08h (Central European Time), 09h (Palestine)


Sydney Staff for BDS is delighted to host Somdeep Sen (Roskilde University, Denmark) for an online talk on his recent book Decolonizing Palestine: Hamas between the Anticolonial and the Postcolonial (Cornell University Press, 2020).

In Decolonizing Palestine, Somdeep Sen counters the notion that liberation from colonization exists as a singular moment in history when the colonizer is ousted by the colonized. Against the background of the past and present of Israel’s project of settler colonialism that rejects the existence of Palestine (and Palestinian-ness), he considers the case of the Palestinian struggle for liberation from this condition as a complex psychological and empirical mix of the colonial and the postcolonial. Specifically, he examines the two seemingly contradictory, yet coexistent, anticolonial and postcolonial modes of politics adopted by Hamas following the organization’s unexpected victory in the 2006 Palestinian Legislative Council election. Despite the expectations of experts, Hamas has persisted as both an armed resistance to Israeli settler colonial rule and as a governing body. Based on ethnographic material collected in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, Israel, and Egypt, Decolonizing Palestine argues that the puzzle Hamas presents is not rooted in predicting the timing or process of its abandonment of either role. The challenge instead lies in explaining how and why it maintains both, and what this implies for the study of liberation movements and postcolonial studies more generally.

Somdeep Sen is Associate Professor in International Development Studies at Roskilde University, Denmark. His research focuses include settler colonialism with a particular focus on Israel-Palestine, urban politics in South Asia and the Middle East, race and racism in international relations, history of liberation movements and postcolonial studies. He is the author of Decolonizing Palestine: Hamas between the Anticolonial and the Postcolonial (Cornell University Press, 2020) and co-editor of Globalizing Collateral Language: From 9/11to Endless Wars (University of Georgia Press, 2021). His work has also appeared in Foreign Policy, The Washington Post, Al Jazeera English, The Huffington Post, Open Democracy, Jacobin, The London Review of Books, The Palestine Chronicle and The Disorder of Things

A similar talk by Som was prevented from going ahead by Zionist pressure on the University of Glasgow (read the protest letter sent by the British Society for Middle Eastern Studies to Glasgow University here). It’s a pleasure and privilege to be able to host Som for Sydney University Staff for BDS.