Crossing a Line: Laws, Violence, and Roadblocks to Palestinian Political Expression

Crossing a Line: Laws, Violence, and Roadblocks to Palestinian Political Expression

Amahl Bishara

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Palestinians living on different sides of the Green Line make up approximately one-fifth of Israeli citizens and about four-fifths of the population of the West Bank. In both groups, activists assert that they share a single political struggle for national liberation. Yet, obstacles inhibit their ability to speak to each other and as a collective. Geopolitical boundaries fragment Palestinians into ever smaller groups. Crossing a Line enters these distinct environments for political expression and action of Palestinians who carry Israeli citizenship and Palestinians subject to Israeli military occupation in the West Bank, and considers how Palestinians are differently impacted by dispossession, settler colonialism, and militarism. Amahl Bishara looks to sites of political practice—journalism, historical commemorations, street demonstrations, social media, in prison, and on the road—to analyze how Palestinians create collectivities in these varied circumstances. She draws on firsthand research, personal interviews, and public media to examine how people shape and reshape meanings in circumstances of constraint. In considering these different environments for political expression and action, Bishara illuminates how expression is always grounded in place—and how a people can struggle together for liberation even when they cannot join together in protest.



"Crossing a Line tells a story of connection and fragmentation, of joy and grief, and of Palestine and its impossible geographies. With a penetrating ethnographic eye and elegant prose, Amahl Bishara gives us an account of Palestinian political expression across barriers that should be widely read."―Ilana Feldman, George Washington University

"This riveting and remarkable book transforms our understanding of the fragility and perseverance of Palestinian collectivities separated by the violence of Israeli settler colonialism. Amahl Bishara's eloquent ethnography examines political and expressive relationships between communities affected differentially by 1948 and by 1967, and in the diaspora."―Lisa Lowe, Yale University

"In this deeply engaged ethnography, Amahl Bishara traces the varying modes and expressions of embodied protest among Palestinians fragmented across Israel's colonial geography. Offering a sensitive reading of Palestinian peoplehood and political difference, 
Crossing a Line brings social movement theory into critical engagement with settler colonial and native studies." ―Rema Hammami, Birzeit University

About the Author

Amahl A. Bishara is an Associate Professor of Anthropology at Tufts University. She is the author of Back Stories: U.S. News Production and Palestinian Politics (Stanford, 2013).

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