The formation of the Israeli state produced a new category of stateless people: Palestinian refugees. Today, the total number of Palestinian refugees and IDPs combined constitute one of the largest and longest-standing displaced communities world-wide. The unresolved question of Palestine raises important considerations in an era of reparations. Thinking about the politics of redress in Israel/Palestine introduces a question central to this lecture: how did an Indigenous Palestinian population with historical ties to land come to be governed as humanitarian wards of a settler-state? Tracing a paper trail of UN archival material, this lecture discusses how a land-based reparative justice imperative came to be managed through protracted humanitarian governance. Empirically, I turn to a collection of progress reports written by Count Folke Bernadotte – the first UN appointed mediator, alongside telegraphs and correspondence letters between Arab and Israeli leaders in the aftermath of Israel’s state declaration. Examining how the Palestinian right of return was internationally recognized and debated prior to the creation of UN General Assembly Resolution 194, this lecture discusses how the political project of return came to be suspended within a racialized economy of humanitarian discourse.
Dr. Shaira Vadasaria is a Visiting Professor in the Global and International Studies Program at Carleton University. Prior to this, she held an Assistant Professor appointment at Al-Quds University, Bard College (East Jerusalem) and will be joining the University of Edinburgh’s Sociology Program in the Spring as a Lecturer (Assistant Professor) of Race and Decolonial Studies. Her research broadly examines formations of race across law, social regulation and nation-building. Her SSHRC funded doctoral thesis emerged out of sustained research in Palestine, where she has been intermittently living, teaching and organizing with civil society, artistic collectives and scholarly networks over the past decade. Her dissertation was awarded York University’s Sociology Distinguished Dissertation Award and based on this work, she is the 2019 recipient of Canadian Sociological Association’s Outstanding Graduating Sociology Student Award. She has published in leading journals including Social Identities: Journal for the Study of Race, Nation and Culture; Critical Studies on Security, and edited book collections including “At the Limits of Justice: Women of Colour Theorize Terror” and is currently working on her first book manuscript entitled, “Temporalities of Return: Race, Displacement and Refusal in Palestine.”
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