Critical Perspectives on Palestine Studies I: History and Politics

Key information

Start date
End date
Term 1
Module code
FHEQ Level

Module overview


Must be taken together with the course:Critical Perspectives on Palestine Studies II – Culture and Society 15PNMC007 as a compulsory course on the MA Palestine Studies programme.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

The aim of the course is to provide an overview of the ways in which varying bodies of scholarship across and intra various disciplines engage and study Palestine, and also an examination of how the study of Palestine cuts across and informs scholarly, theoretical, political and disciplinary approaches.

The course addresses issues relating to the questions of conflict and political economy, development, cultural politics, social and economic relations, identity, and other major concerns of humanities and social sciences.

By the end of the course, the students should be able to demonstrate a critical understanding of the history of Palestine and the development of Palestine-Israel Conflict and familiarity with different disciplinary approaches, models, and scholarship frameworks in the study of Palestine. They will have been introduced to the key works in the subject and become familiar with the terminology and language in discourses about Palestine, and with the methods of analysis and argumentation as embodied in selected texts by leading authors. They will also acquire the critical tools to comprehend, analyse and write critically on topics relevant to the study of Palestine.


This course will be co-taught over 20 weeks, with a 1 hour lecture followed by a 1 hour seminar.

Scope and syllabus

The course shall examine Palestinian history and politics with specific emphasis on the post-1948 period. In so doing, it will aim to provide an overview of the different approaches –sociological, historical, political, economic etc.– to the trajectory of Palestinian politics, as well as the political movements, conflicts, strategies of struggle, processes of state formation, economic development and ideologies that have shaped Palestinian politics.

The course not only provides some concrete knowledge of the themes presented here, but also suggests specific theoretical approaches that help illuminate, and are in turn illuminated by, the study of Palestinian culture and society.

Course readings and discussions are guided by, but not exhaustive of, or exclusive to, the following major topics:

  • What is Palestine?
  • History until 1919
  • Zionism and Mandate Palestine 1919-1948
  • Palestine after the Nakba
  • State and authority
  • Political Economy
  • Political ideologies and movements
  • Palestinian nationalism
  • Tactics of struggle
  • Human rights and law
  • Palestine in the region
  • Global Palestine and solidarity

The various sessions will reflect

  1. The geographic diffusion of Palestinians in the diaspora, the Occupied Territories, and inside
  2. The ways in which gender is inflected through all the above (so that the discussion of gender and sexuality are not “ghettoised”)
  3. Attentiveness to the debates under the heading of each theme, and the way these debates have broader significance and bearing on theoretical concerns of our time.
  4. The politics of the day-to-day

Method of assessment

  • an essay of 2,500 - 3,000 words to be submitted in the week after reading week, term 1 (50%)
  • an essay of 2,500 - 3,000 words to be submitted in term 2 (50%)
  • The exact assessment deadline dates are published on the relevant module Moodle/BLE page

Suggested reading

  • Aruri, Naseer and Farsoun, Samih, Palestine and the Palestinians: a Social and Political History
  • Bisharat George, “Courting Justice? Legitimation in Lawyering under Israeli Occupation”, Law and Social Enquiry 20:2 (1995)
  • Brand, Laurie, Palestinians in the Arab World: Institution Building and the Search for State
  • Doumani, Beshara. Rediscovering Palestine merchants and peasants in Jabal Nablus, 1700-1900
  • Farsakh, Leila, Palestinian Labor Migration to Israel
  • Gordon, Neve, Israel’s Occupation
  • Hajjar, Lisa, Courting Conflict
  • Hammami, Rema, “NGOs: The Professionalization of Politics” in Race and Class 37:2 (1995)
  • Hanieh, Adam, “The internationalisation of Gulf capital and Palestinian class formation”, Capital and Class 35:1 (2011)
  • Khalidi, Rashid, Palestinian Identity: The Construction of Modern National Consciousness
  • Khalidi, Rashid, The Iron Cage: The Story of the Palestinian Struggle for Statehood
  • Khalili, Laleh, Heroes and Martyrs of Palestine: The Politics of National Commemoration
    Levine, Mark and Gershon Shafir, Struggle and Survival in Israel and Palestine
  • Makdisi, Saree, Palestine Inside Out
  • Pearlman, Wendy, Violence, Nonviolence, and the Palestinian National Movement
  • Roy, Sara, The Gaza Strip: The Political Economy of De-Development
  • Sa'di, Ahmed and Lila Abu-Lughod (eds), Nakba: Palestine, 1948, and the Claims of Memory
  • Sayigh, Yezid, Armed Struggle and the Search for State
  • Segev, Tom, One Palestine, complete: Jews and Arabs under the British mandate
  • Seitz, Charmaine, “ISM at the Crossroads: The Evolution of the International Solidarity Movement”, Journal of Palestine Studies 32:4 (2003)
  • Shlaim, Avi, The Iron Wall
  • Smith, Charles, Palestine and the Arab-Israeli Conflict: A History with Documents
  • Swedenburg, Ted, Memories of Revolt: The 1936-1939 Rebellion and the Palestinian National Past
  • Taghdisi-Rad, Sahar, The Political Economy of Aid in Palestine: Relief from Conflict or Development Delayed?
  • Weizman, Eyal, Hollow Land


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules