The workshop

Jewish settlements are one of the most controversial issues in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Still, academic production and media attention on the topic focuses almost entirely on the radical, national-religious components of the settlers’ population; on the connection between the settlement enterprise and the religious-ethno-national territorial imperative of the “conquest of the land”; on the status of settlements within the framework of international law; on the role of the settlements as “obstacles to peace”; and as an issue of political campaigning (both inside and outside Israel).

The rationale for organizing this research workshop is to explore less conventional approaches and angles that go beyond the immediate politico-diplomatic dynamics and impact of Israel’s settlement policy. The underlying assumption is that the settlements’ enterprise is not an exceptional phenomenon contradictory to other trends in Israeli society, but is a historical process that was shaped by and related to other long-term processes.

We feel that a more comprehensive approach is needed in order to understand how the transformation of the landscape determined by the expansion of settlements created new – albeit not necessarily fair – patterns of relations amongst the resident population of Israel/Palestine. At the same time, a more holistic approach to the settlement issue can open up spaces for comparative analysis and theory building beyond the specific reality of Israel/Palestine.

The seminar will take place in two days (June 29-30, 2014) and include five panel sessions (each structured around three-four papers based on on-going or recent research). A final roundtable will mark the conclusion of the seminar.

The program of the workshop is structured in order to allow for a continuous and close interaction among the participants. Participants are therefore encouraged to attend all the sessions beside their own. There are a limited number of slots available for paper presentations; additional enrollment will be accepted limited to room capacity.

The seminar aims at presenting a fresh perspective on the issue of settlements by bringing together different perspectives on the subject, as well as junior and senior scholars. The seminar is meant to be the first episode in a future series of events, aimed at establishing a continuous discussion among scholars working on these issues. A more immediate goal of the seminar is to collect materials for a special issue of a leading journal and/or a book proposal to be submitted to a major publisher.

The workshop will be hosted by the Minerva Humanities Center and received the generous support of the Van Leer Institute and of the CRFJ – Fondation Bettencourt Schueller.

 

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