“Camp/Colony: In the Open Time of Dispossession”

Dr. Nasser Abourahme, Middle Eastern and North African Studies, Bowdoin College.


Thursday November 16, 4-5:30pm



The question of settler colonialism has, once again, risen to the surface of global politics. But what exactly is it about settler colonialism that makes it so unstable a political formation? Why is it that centuries after their foundational events, even allegedly “postcolonial” settler states seem so stricken with a malaise and enmity that continuously open up “old” wounds and pose existential anxieties anew? This talk argues that settler colonialism is as much a conquest of time as it is a conquest of land. Today, perhaps nowhere more so, this is demonstrated in the struggle over Palestine.

To read this struggle, Abourahme tells the story of the Palestinian question through the history of the Palestinian refugee camp as a political object. By reading a series of Israeli state plans, developed between 1967 and 1987, for the total undoing of the refugee camps, he approaches the conflict over Palestine-Israel as a struggle over historical time, a struggle that has reached an impasse. This history frames Israel as a settler-colonial project defined by its inability to move past the past; a project stuck at its foundational moment of conquest. And presents the Palestinian politics of return as a refusal to abide by the closure of the past into the present, an insistence on irresolution and the openness of time.


Co-sponsored by:

Humanities Center


Critical Theory

Department of History

Department of Comparative Literature

Global Middle East Studies