[P6500] The Critical Hope of Palestinian and Mizrahi Studies

Created by Caroline Kahlenberg
Friday, 12/03/21 2:00 pm


Despite their shared origins within postcolonial critique, and their focus on forms of extraction within Palestine/Israel, Palestinian Studies and Mizrahi Studies have proceeded as virtually parallel fields, reflecting ongoing divides produced by nationalist methodologies, statist understandings of social difference, and the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Meanwhile, the few studies that do locate themselves at the intersection of the two fields tend to render Mizrahi-Palestinian relations through either “Zionism” or “anti-Zionism” as discreet political ideologies—thereby limiting our understanding of Mizrahi-Palestinian relations as either inherently oppositional or shallowly solidary.

This panel proposes new directions for methodologically linking Mizrahi studies and Palestinian studies. The papers presented take up Ella Shohat’s oft-deferred call to engage in Mizrahi studies “alongside and in relation to Palestinian studies.” They go beyond treating Palestinians and Mizrahim either as mutual “Others” of European-dominated Zionism or as intrinsic “opposites” within the Zionist/Palestinian rubric. Rather, they center concrete interactions, intersections, and antagonisms historically rooted in the 20th century in order to ask: How are Palestinians and Mizrahim differently implicated in the struggles against Zionism and the Israeli state? In what ways do Palestinian and Mizrahi histories diverge? And how might Palestinian-Mizrahi exchanges themselves constitute settler colonial relations?

The panel’s first paper interrogates how colonial and national discourses about age in British Mandate Palestine served to racialize Palestinians and Mizrahi Jews in intersecting ways. The second paper takes up questions of racism against Iraqi Jewish women in Israel’s immigration transit camps during the state’s first decades, and how such racialization engendered systemic discrimination. The third paper brings oral history interviews and the Hebrew and Arabic press in conversation with recent work in Settler Colonial and Holocaust Studies to argue for “complicit racialization” as a framework for understanding the migration of Mizrahim to Mandate Palestine and Israel in the 1940s and 1950s. The fourth and final paper asks why Palestinians affiliated with research institutes and publishing houses in the Arab world wrote about and translated Mizrahi authors in Israel and how they understood the Mizrahi struggle in relation to their own national cause.


Hist; Hist; Hist; Hist; Hist; Hist; Hist; Hist; Hist




Bryan Roby

(The University of Michigan)
I am an Assistant Professor of Judaic Studies with the Frankel Institute. My focus is on Middle Eastern and North African Jewish history in the modern era. After earning my PhD at the University of Manchester (UK), I completed a postdoctoral fellowship...
Panel Participating Role(s): Discussant;

Chelsie May

(University of Chicago)
I am a historian of the modern Middle East who is particularly interested in applying the analytics of gender and race to the modern Middle East. Currently, I am a PhD candidate in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at the University...
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

Nancy Ko

(Columbia University)
Panel Participating Role(s): Organizer; Presenter;

Caroline Kahlenberg

(Harvard University (she/her/hers))
Panel Participating Role(s): Organizer; Presenter;

Ryan Zohar

(New York University / Long Island University)
Panel Participating Role(s): Organizer; Presenter;