What does free speech have to do with Palestinian liberation?

Key information

6:00 pm to 8:00 pm
Brunei Gallery, SOAS
Brunei Gallery Lecture Theatre (BGLT)

About this event

The systematic erasure of Palestine that has taken place over the course of the long 20th and 21st centuries has increasingly involved the suppression of pro-Palestine activism. In this lecture, I examine the role that the struggle for free speech plays in Palestinian liberation. I attend to the means through which pro-Palestine speech and activism have been suppressed through quasi-legal means, including the IHRA definition of antisemitism. I argue that free speech is best understood not as a means of balancing different opposing sides, but rather as a dimension of human freedom. One implication of this approach is that the struggle for Palestinian self-determination has a specific contribution to make to our understanding of free speech in general. Finally, I consider what the ongoing genocide in Gaza means for the future of Palestine activism.

Photo by Ehimetalor Akhere Unuabona on Unsplash.

About the speaker

Rebecca Ruth Gould’s most recent book is Erasing Palestine: Free Speech and Palestinian Freedom (Verso, 2023). She is also the author, with Malaka Mohammed Shwaikh, of Prison Hunger Strikes in Palestine: A Strategic Perspective (International Center on Nonviolent Conflict, 2023). Her commentary on the politics of defining antisemitism and Middle Eastern politics has been featured in Political Quarterly, Prospect Magazine, Al Jazeera, The Nation, The New Arab, Jacobin, and Middle East Eye. She is Distinguished Professor of Comparative Poetics and Global Politics, SOAS, and Primary Investigator for the European Research Council-funded project Global Literary Theory (GlobalLIT).

Chair: Dina Matar (SOAS)


This event is free to attend, but registration is required. Please note that seating is on a first-come, first-served basis.