Third Biennial Conference: “Pessoptimism: Anthropologies of Palestinian Hope and Uncertainty”

In cold January in Beit-Jala, Insaniyyat held a heartwarming third biennial conference titled, “Pessoptimism: Anthropologies of Palestinian Hope and Uncertainty.” The conference brought 80 participants (physical and virtual) from some 30 locations around the world. It opened with Insaniyyat recognizing Rosemary Sayigh’s life-long, tireless work in support of Palestine and Palestinian anthropology. Stef Jansen on what anthropologists have done—and could still do—in studying “hope,” with comments by (University of Sarajevo) gave a keynote address discussant Julie Peteet (University of Louisville). Six research panels addressed diverse themes, from Utopia to epistemology, and included papers on Palestinian intimacies, aesthetics, pluralism, and relations with the land.

Two workshops aimed at supporting the writing and publications of graduate students were led by Rania Jawad (Birzeit University) and ‘Alaa al-‘Azzah (Birzeit University), and Niko Besnier (University of Amsterdam). The third half-day of the conference was devoted to Insaniyyat’s membership meeting, which concluded with announcing election results for the Executive Board. In addition to the diligent work of Insaniyyat’s conference committee and cadre of devoted volunteers, invaluable support from the Palestinian American Research Center and the Wenner-Gren Foundation made the conference possible.