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Event
International Observatory for Cultural Heritage
Symposium

From Res Nullius to Terra Nullius:

Revisiting Indigenous Histories, Legal Systems and Land Rights in the Naqab

Panelists: Bashir Abu Manneh, Nadia Ben Youssef, Debby Farber
Moderator: Nadia Abu El-Haj
Respondent: Audra Simpson
Chair: Brian Boyd

The Center for Palestine Studies, in partnership with the NGO Zochrot, and Forensic Architecture, will be holding a scholarly panel within the framework of the exhibition, Ground Truth: Testimonies of Destruction and Return in Al-Araqib, to expand the discourse on the origins of the dispossession, expulsion, and displacement of the Palestinian Bedouins in the Negev/Al-Naqab, and in particular its historical background and legal aspects. The panelists are scholars and activists involved in historical research, legal geography, and human rights with the aim of situating the case of the Naqab Bedouins within key international debates, such as the territorial dispossession of indigenous peoples, indivisibility, and interrelationship of socioeconomic, cultural, civil, and political rights.

Nadia Abu El-Haj, Professor of Anthropology, Barnard College, and Co-Director of the Center for Palestine Studies
Nadia is the author of Facts on the Ground: Archaeological Practice and Territorial Self-Fashioning in Israeli Society (University of Chicago Press, 2001), which won the Albert Hourani Award of the Middle East Studies Association, and The Genealogical Science: The Search for Jewish Origins and the Politics of Epistemology (University of Chicago Press, 2012). She has held fellowships at Harvard University’s Academy for International and Area Studies and the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton. In addition, she is a former Fulbright Fellow and a recipient of awards from the SSRC-MacArthur Grant in International Peace and Security, the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, and the National Endowment for the Humanities among others. Nadia has served on the Editorial Board of the Journal of Palestine Studies since 2002.

Bashir Abu-Manneh, Director of the Centre for Postcolonial Studies, Kent University
Bashir Abu-Manneh is Reader in Postcolonial Literature and Director of the Centre for Postcolonial Studies at the University of Kent in the UK, and author of The Palestinian Novel: From 1948 to the Present (2016) and Fiction of the New Statesman, 1913-1939 (2011). His edited book on Edward Said as critic and theorist, After Said: Postcolonial Literary Studies in the Twenty-First Century, is out at the end of the year.

Nadia Ben-Youssef, Co-Founder and Director Adalah Justice Project
Nadia Ben-Youssef is the co-founder and director of Adalah Justice Project (AJP), and works at the intersection of law, advocacy, and art to advance human rights. Prior to leading AJP, she worked with Adalah - The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel (Adalah) both in Israel/Palestine and in the US. She coordinated Adalah's international advocacy on behalf of the indigenous Palestinian Bedouin community in the Naqab, and most recently served as the organization's first USA Representative. As an outgrowth of her work in the US, AJP was launched in February 2017 to influence American policy and practice in Israel/Palestine. Much of the work of AJP has focused on building a transnational movement against supremacy and state-sanctioned violence together with cause lawyers, community organizers, and artists across diverse movements for social justice. Nadia is a member of the New York State Bar, and holds a BA in Sociology from Princeton University, and a J.D. from Boston College Law School.

Debby Farber, curator Zochrot NGO
Debby Farber is the curator of Zochrot NGO ("Remembering" in Hebrew), an Israeli organization working to promote acknowledgement and accountability for the ongoing injustices of the Nakba, the Palestinian catastrophe of 1948. From 2012 to 2014 she served as the Civil Transitional Justice program director in Zochrot where she established the first Unofficial Truth Commission in Israel for the events of 1948 in the Negev. Debby is a former AHDA fellow of the Institute for the Study for Human Rights at Columbia University and is currently also a PhD Candidate in the Politics and Government Department in Ben Gurion University where she explores the linkages between Visual Culture, History and Political Geography within the visual historiography of Israel/Palestine.

Brian Boyd, Director of Museum Anthropology, Columbia University
Brian Boyd (M.A.(Hons.) Glasgow 1991, Ph.D. Cambridge 1996) is currently Co-Chair of the Center for Palestine Studies. He is Program Director of the Columbia Center for Archaeology, Director of Museum Anthropology, and Co-Chair of the Columbia University Seminar on Human-Animal Studies. He is also Chair Emeritus of the New York Academy of Sciences Anthropology Division.

He has been carrying out archaeological research in Southwest Asia for almost thirty years, and currently co-directs the Columbia-Birzeit University project “Building Community Anthropology Across the Jordan Valley”, based in the town of Shuqba in the West Bank, Palestinian Territories (partially funded by the Columbia University President’s Global Initiative Fund). His research focuses on the prehistory of southwest Asia, the politics of archaeology in Israel/Palestine, and human-animal studies.

Audra Simpson, Department of Anthropology, Columbia University
My primary research is energized by the problem of recognition, by its passage beyond (and below) the aegis of the state into the grounded field of political self-designation, self-description and subjectivity. This work is motivated by the struggle of Kahnawake Mohawks to find the proper way to afford political recognition to each other, their struggle to do this in different places and spaces and the challenges of formulating membership against a history of colonial impositions. As a result of this ethnographic engagement I am interested especially in those formations of citizenship and nationhood that occur in spite of state power and imposition and in particular, I am interested in declarative and practice-oriented acts of independence. In order to stay faithful to the words of my interlocutors I am interested as well in the use of narrative as data, in alternative forms of ethnographic writing and in critical forms of history. In order to stay faithful to my own wishes, I work at every turn to enter the fields of anthropology and Native American Studies into a critical and constructive dialogue with each other.

My second research project examines the borders of time, history and bodies across and within what is now understood to be the United States and Canada.

Photo: A kite equipped with camera over the cistern of Muhammad Ibn Salame Al-Uqbi, Negev Desert. November 2016. Forensic Architecture (Ariel Caine) / Public Lab (Hagit Keysar) / Al-Araqib village / Zochrot