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Book of the Month

In the Limelight

Political Economy of Palestine

Critical, Interdisciplinary, and Decolonial Perspectives

Edited by Alaa Tartir, Tariq Dana, and Timothy Seidel

Palgrave Macmillan, Middle East Today Series, 1st ed., 2021

The recently published Political Economy of Palestine: Critical, Interdisciplinary, and Decolonial Perspectives, edited by Alaa Tartir, Tariq Dana, and Timothy Seidel, makes the important argument that an approach to economics that does not consider the political – a de-politicized economics – is inadequate to understanding the situation in occupied Palestine. It outlines a critical interdisciplinary approach to political economy that challenges prevailing neoliberal logics and structures that reproduce racial capitalism, and explores how the political economy of occupied Palestine is shaped by processes of accumulation by exploitation and dispossession from both Israel and global business, as well as from Palestinian elites. It also explores a decolonial approach to Palestinian political economy that foregrounds struggles against neoliberal and settler colonial policies and institutions, and aids in the defragmentation of Palestinian life, land, and political economy that the Oslo Accords perpetuated, but whose histories of de-development over all of Palestine can be traced back for over century.

Political Economy of Palestine is organized in three parts. Following an introduction by the editors, Part I, “Contextualizing Palestinian Political Economy,” offers an in-depth analysis and an overall framing to critical dimensions in the realm of political economy in Palestine. Tariq Dana explores Israeli strategies and policies in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) since 1967 that shaped the Palestinian political economy through pursuing economic domination and economic pacification. Ibrahim Shikaki investigates the political economy of dependency and class formation in the OPT from 1967 to the present day. Furthermore, Timothy Seidel examines settler colonialism and argues that a decolonial approach to political economy in occupied Palestine gives attention to enduring indigeneity and the role of land in the struggle for autonomy, sovereignty, and self-determination.

Part II, “Political Economy of Integration, Fragmentation, and Inequality,” presents courageous and highly original analyses that aim to rethink Palestinian political economy. Walid Habbas problematizes West Bank-Israel economic integration through Palestinian interactions with the Israeli border and permit regimes, and Ahmed Tannira examines the political economy of the Gaza Strip under Hamas rule. Hebatalla Taha addresses the invisibility of Palestinian citizens of Israel in prevailing analyses on Palestinian political economy and discusses this through the prism of neoliberal contestations, Israeli capitalism, and class formation. Shir Hever ends Part II with a proposal to shift the analysis and the methodological framework towards addressing the one-state reality of apartheid and the accompanying inequality and discrimination.

Part III, “Political Economy in the Absence of Sovereignty,” explores multiple sectors (such as foreign aid, security, fiscal, and waste and its infrastructures) and their interaction with the sphere of political economy in the absence of sovereignty. Catherine Chiniara Charrett begins by examining the Gaza Strip and the political economies of indigenous (non)futures. Jeremy Wildeman and Alaa Tartir offer a conceptual framing for the political economy of foreign aid in the OPT, and Anas Iqtait extends the analysis to investigate the political economy of the Palestinian Authority and the economic architecture of the Oslo Accords through a fiscal control lens. The political economy of intervention and securitized ordering in the OPT is another critical element in understanding the existing complex dynamics and is discussed by Tahani Mustafa. Sophia Stamatopoulou-Robbins explores Palestine’s political economy from the point of view of the materialities, valuations, and circulations of wastes such as sewage, garbage, debris, and the infrastructures and spaces through which they circulate.

Finally, Professor Sara Roy reminds us in her concluding chapter that knowledge production is itself a form of resistance, making the role of the intellectual a part of resistance. Professor Roy’s conclusion underscores the book’s themes on critique as an act that historicizes, offering powerful stories that foreground the erasures and the logic of elimination central to settler colonialism, and the book’s decolonial approach that understands this work as both a material and an epistemic project.

The contributions to this volume make the case that critical, interdisciplinary, and decolonial perspectives provide a more robust framework for understanding the political economy of occupied Palestine, and signals a commitment to a politics of solidarity with the popular struggles in Palestine and around the world. Ongoing developments in the region demonstrate once again the failures of “economic peace” and the need for such a politics of solidarity that a critical political economy approach takes.

Professor Laleh Khalili (Queen Mary University of London) says that the Political Economy of Palestine “offers exciting new vistas into Palestinian political economy,” and Professor Ray Bush (University of Leeds) calls it “the ‘go to’ collection of timely essays committed to liberation and decolonisation. A fabulous yet daunting read.” Professor Adam Hanieh (SOAS) writes, “This brilliant book brings together some of the most innovative and critical work on the political economy of Palestine today. A fascinating collection that makes a valuable contribution to our understanding of the Palestinian struggle – past, present, and future.” And Professor Mandy Turner (University of Manchester) points out, “Edward Said wrote: ‘We cannot fight for our rights and our history as well as future until we are armed with weapons of criticism and dedicated consciousness.’ This book provides both.”

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