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KNOWING PALESTINE: ISLAMOPHOBIA, IMAGINATION, & CRITICAL SOLIDARITIES
June Jordan's Palestine
Prof. Keith Feldman, Ethnic Studies
In the interest of situating a political present marked by both the deepening racial dehumanization of Palestinians and the growing global solidarity movement in support of Palestine’s decolonization, this talk takes up the present-tense becoming-Palestinian of renowned African American poet, essayist, activist, teacher, and UC Berkeley and Barrows Hall denizen June Jordan. Where and when was Jordan’s “now”, and where and when is our own? How might we historicize Jordan’s signal moment of critical relation? How might this temporality teach us to conceptualize forms and frames of comparativity adequate to the crises of our political present?
Jordan’s writing on Palestine in the late 1970s and early 1980s mark an occasion to revisit a poetics that bears witness to the production of racialized spaces of social death (particularly in the 1982 massacres in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps) even as it defiantly hails the potential futurity of what Jordan calls “living room.” In so doing, Jordan’s writing on Palestine helps us to chart a cartography that limns the critical relations among the Sabra and Shatila massacres and the Iranian Revolution; the emergence of a Cold War battle over Afghanistan; the proxy-fication of Latin America; the ascendance of Likud in Israel alongside Reaganism in the U.S. and Thatcherism in the U.K.; the rise of the prison as a hegemonic “fix” for social contradictions in the U.S.; and the widespread traction of struggles against the apartheid regime in South Africa. Her work likewise tasks us with seeing this becoming-Palestinian in relation to Jordan’s crucial participation in the twinned articulation of queer of color critique and radical feminisms, two formations predicated on deploying the relationalities of race, class, gender, and sexuality for rethinking the human in a global framework.
Islamophobia Production in the Palestine-Israel Conflict
Dr. Hatem Bazian, Near Eastern and Asian American Studies
The knowledge production associated with the Islamophobia phenomenon is entangled in a complex process that has many institutions, paid staff, influential individuals, interested agencies, corporations, media coverage, civic groups and religious organizations acting according to their constructed set or sets of self-interests. I maintain that a set of individuals, groups and organizations have managed to promote their collective self-interests, and promote Islamophobia at the center or the effective policy of, presently, the only super power in world. More importantly, the production of knowledge related to Islamophobia and its sub-parts in the US has a pre-dominant focus on Israel and its immediate strategic needs and the threats posed by “Islam” and its many sub-groups or organizations. In this brief paper, I will attempt to explore the work done by groups and organizations that have effectively managed to make a direct link between US policy and the Palestine-Israel conflict through the systematic deployment of Islamophobia signifiers both domestically and internationally.