CPS Annual Lecture 2022: The Perils and Promises of History

Key information

5:30 pm to 7:00 pm
Virtual Event

About this event

"All wars are fought twice, the first time on the battlefield, the second time in memory," writes Viet Thanh Nguyen. In post-1948 Palestine/Israel, the battle over memory –– and history –– of Israel’s originary war endures and has been for decades now a central focus of not only politics but also, of scholarship. Toward what ends? In this talk, I reconsider a certain faith in the promise of reading “against” or “along” the archival grain as a project of anti- and post-colonial scholarship. From the perspective of figurations of contemporary politics not just in Israeli society but also in the U.S., I query whether that intellectual-qua-political project –– and its faith in the reparatory possibilities of history (writing) –– might be increasingly unsustainable today.


About the speaker

Nadia Abu El-Haj is Ann Whitney Olin Professor in the Departments of Anthropology at Barnard College and Columbia University, Co-Director of the Center for Palestine Studies, and Chair of the Governing Board of the Society of Fellows/Heyman Center for the Humanities at Columbia University. She is the author of numerous journal articles published on topics ranging from the history of archaeology in Palestine to the question of race and genomics today. Abu El-Haj is the author of three books: Facts on the Ground: Archaeological Practice and Territorial Self-Fashioning in Israeli Society (2001), which won the Albert Hourani Annual Book Award from the Middle East Studies Association in 2002, The Genealogical Science: The Search for Jewish Origins and the Politics of Epistemology (2012), and Combat Trauma: Imaginaries of War and Citizenship in post 9/11 America (Verso, 2022).

Chair: Dina Matar (SOAS)


This webinar will take place online via Zoom. 

Organiser: Centre for Palestine Studies, SOAS

Contact email: smei@soas.ac.uk