Birzeit Insaniyyat Symposium

Despite walls and checkpoints, with colleagues from Palestinian universities we held our first symposium on April 9, 2016 at Birzeit University under the auspices of the Institute for Women Studies at Birzeit University. Fifteen anthropologists remaining in historic Palestine gathered for a day-long, two-part symposium. The first part was open to the public and consisted of a series of panels that included presentations about successive generations of anthropological research conducted by Palestinians or on Palestine. Its purpose was to recollect what had been done, become better aware of what is being done, and discuss what needs to be done in anthropologically studying Palestine.

The second part was a closed event to focus on organizational issues. Our discussion generated a tentative vision for Insaniyyat, expressing our belief in the significance of anthropological research and the importance of studying Palestine in all its temporalities, patrimonies, and peoples. It also delineated Insaniyyat’s aim to provide an intellectual home for Palestinian anthropologists and to support their professional development, whether in Palestine or abroad. We also set up outreach and steering committees for organizing an international conference aimed at formalizing Insaniyyat. They were tasked with building a global directory of Palestinian anthropologists, cataloguing a bank of readings in Palestinian anthropology, mapping the landscape of anthropological professional groups in the Arab world, and holding an organizational development conference to formalize Insaniyyat as a professional body of Palestinian anthropologists, regardless of where they reside or practice their scholarship.