“Thinking Without A State”

Insaniyyat's 2019 Biannual Meeting

During a three-day conference between 7-9 June 2019, we met in Talitha Komi, Beit Jala - Palestine, within the exuberance of a community coming into-existence despite our dismembered homeland and dispersed communities. On its first day, the conference featured keynote speaker, J. Kēhaulani Kauanui, Professor of American Studies and affiliate faculty member at Wesleyan University whose talk was titled, “Rethinking Sovereignty and the Contradictions of Self-Determination.” j

Her address was followed by two panels, “Stateless and Besieged Memories: Refugees & Political Generations,” and then “Anthropological Methods and Knowledge Production: Palestine as an Epistemic Site." j


On the second day of the conference, two additional panels were held, “Religious Registers and Pious Publics: Practices & Resistances'' and “Spaces and Infrastructure: Dispossession, Contestation, Reclamation.” The papers presented at the four panels included research by students and established faculty, presented in either English or Arabic with simultaneous translation. The panels selected by Insaniyyat Conference’s Academic Planning Committee aimed to reflect the diverse range of our scholars, provide a supportive platform for junior scholars, engage critical issues in relation to the anthropology of Palestine and Palestinians, and bring together in conversation scholars who write in both languages. Out of this care to cultivate, on the second day of the conference, a workshop was also held for graduate students and junior scholars on the arts of proposal writing, publishing in peer-reviewed journals, and book proposal writing, gracefully lead by Ilana Feldman and Amahl Bishara. On the third and final day, Insaniyyat core members convened to elect a new Executive Board and also brainstorm about activities for the coming months and years. j


Although this was Insaniyyat’s second conference, it was a first in being primarily devoted to academic presentations and discussions. It was also a first of its kind in Palestine, modeled on a professional members’ conference. On the first day, a wide group of nearly 60 people attended the sessions, including social science students and faculty from Palestinian universities. The conference provided an important platform to develop new ties and networks, with many anthropology graduate students from the West Bank and 48’ meeting for the first time, building new connections, and discussing their work and interests with faculty both from historic Palestine and from overseas. j