Settler Colonial Studies, Secessions of Colonialism, and Ethnonationalism: An Edward Saidian Consideration

A coffee and tea reception will be offered from 2pm.

Recent years have witnessed the framework of Setter Colonialism gaining hegemonic explanatory dominance among attempts to elucidate the Palestine/Israel trajectory. Scrutiny of many texts in this (newly-awoken) domain ultimately reveals that a modest number of new insights have been added to those already published by (anti-Zionist) Arabs and Israelis between 1962 (the foundation of Israel’s Matzpen) and 1974 (the PLO’s adoption of its Ten Point Programme). Whereas the pre-1974 Settler Colonial school was ‘historical’, the 21st century one appears somewhat ‘ahistorical’. This draft-verdict grows out of what I view as three lacunas detectable equally in these ‘old’ and ‘renewed’ schools spotlighting the Palestine/Israel case: (i) insufficient attention to comparative anti-colonialisms; (ii) obliviousness vis-à-vis the (post-WW1) phenomenon of ethnonationalism; and (iii) a puzzling epistemological detour around social constructivism. In his seminal 1999 essay, The One State Solution, Edward Said advocated for a single binational state. In the aftermath of his 2003 passing two asymmetric schools emerged: (i) a miniature Saidian one warranting the label ‘bi-national’; and (ii) a non-Saidian liberal and Eurocentric school which is home to practically all affiliates of ‘Settler Colonial Studies’. These schools make dissimilar sense of the concept ‘de-colonisation’ and of notions of individual and collective rights.