Whose Narratives? Teaching Palestine in the Age of Pandemic and the Corporate University

By Rabab Abdulhadi
Submitted to Session P6583 (Whose Narratives? Whose Classrooms? Teaching Palestine and Gender; Sexual Justice in the Age of (Corporatized) Pandemic, 2021 Annual Meeting
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LCD Projector with Audio Patch or Speakers;
Since the censorship of their open classroom webinar on September 23, instructors have had to deal with several minor and major crises and obstacles, including trying to find alternative venues for the classrooms on their own; informing over 1,500 Zoom registrants (and 4,000 others who signaled interest on Facebook), including many colleagues and anxious students who had chosen to write their assignments on this topic; extending assignment deadlines for this webinar and subsequent requirements and brace themselves for possible negative student evaluations; contending with potential criminal charges and imprisonment; and attempting to survive this latest damage to their careers for missing deadlines or for being dropped from academic gatherings over their resistance to patronizing Zoom, a business that silenced Palestine. Drawing on the experiences of the AMED Studies program at SFSU, this paper asks if academic freedom exists as a meaningful concept in the age of the global pandemic, reliance on private tech giants who monopolize our lives within and outside the academy and the increased corporatization of the public university whose administrators are more accountable to wealthy right-wing and pro-Israel donors than to their students, faculty, staff and community. The paper will finally speculate on the future possibilities of institutionalizing programs that focus on Palestine, Arab and Muslim Studies, in the age of the pandemic and rising white supremacy, anti-Blackness, Islamophobia and other manifestations of racism and xenophobia (anti-Asian, anti-Semitism, anti-immigrant), as well as the false equation of anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism.