Decolonizing Palestine: Hamas between the Anticolonial and the Postcolonial
In Decolonizing Palestine, Somdeep Sen rejects the notion that liberation from colonialization exists as a singular moment in history when the colonizer is ousted by the colonized. Instead, he considers the case of the Palestinian struggle for liberation from its settler colonial condition as a complex psychological and empirical mix of the colonial and the postcolonial. Specifically, he examines the two seemingly contradictory, yet coexistent, anticolonial and postcolonial modes of politics adopted by Hamas following the organization's unexpected victory in the 2006 Palestinian Legislative Council election.
Despite the expectations of experts, Hamas has persisted as both an armed resistance to Israeli settler colonial rule and as a governing body. Based on ethnographic material collected in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, Israel, and Egypt, Decolonizing Palestine argues that the puzzle Hamas presents is not rooted in predicting the timing or process of its abandonment of either role. The challenge instead lies in explaining how and why it maintains both, and what this implies for the study of liberation movements and postcolonial studies more generally.
Sen's work, Decolonizing Pelestine - Hamas Between the Anticolonial and the Postcolonial is a powerful and well-argued presentation on Hamas' actions in Gaza. At the same time, he very thoughtfully extends his arguments as being part of the global system of settler-colonialism. ― The Palestine Chronicle
The most refreshing aspect of Sen's book is that it adopts as its starting point the premise that Hamas is a movement fighting against Zionist settler colonialism and in so doing, against efforts, prevalent in the literature on the movement, to view Hamas as somehow exceptional or external to the Palestinian cause. By complicating the linear view of liberation, Sen does us the service of illustrating, using Hamas as a case study, that liberation is messy, iterative, and unpredictable. ― The Middle East Journal
Decolonizing Palestine is a brilliant ethnography inquiring about the anticolonial violence and postcolonial statecraft in Palestine from the prism of the experience of Israel's settler colonialism in Gaza. [T]he volume provides a significant theoretical contribution to postcolonial studies by offering interesting insights into the ways in which a transnational discussion on the struggle for liberation can be framed, potentially connecting anticolonial and postcolonial experiences of people around the world fighting for their liberation in a meaningful process of exchange, solidarity and mutual learning. ― The International Spectator
This tension between the forging of governmental authority by a nationalist bourgeoisie and a continuing anticolonial campaign, a liberationist struggle that spills over the bounds of nationalism, is at the heart of Somdeep Sen's thoughtful and generous Decolonizing Palestine. ― The AAG Review of Books
This book offers a unique analysis of what is for many a puzzling area of Middle East politics:Hamas and its apparent, persistent motivations for violent conflict. Sen spent three years researching and listening in Gaza, the West Bank, Israel, and the region, and this effort is reflected in the very high quality of the work. Sen has given us a remarkably clear theoretical basis for understanding the contradictions of Hamas as both a resistance force and a nascent agent of governance. ― Middle East Policy
Decolonizing Palestine serves as a corrective to accounts that imagine Hamas or Gaza as the main stumbling block in the Israeli–Palestinian conflict resolution attempts.Sen creates space to think about internal Palestinian politics independently, as well as in a global context that extends beyond Israel. ― International Affairs
Based on original ethnographic material, Decolonizing Palestine makes a path-breaking contribution to postcolonial studies as well as studies of Palestinian politics, arguing that the moment of anticolonial liberation is not a rupture, but rather, the anticolonial and the postcolonial coexist in an ongoing struggle for recognition, justice and sovereignty. ― Nicola Pratt, University of Warwick, author of Embodying Geopolitics
Somdeep Sen is an Associate Professor at Roskilde University. He is co-author of The Palestinian Authority in the West Bank. Follow him on Twitter @ssen03.
We Also Recommend Reading:
Gaza Writes Back: Short Stories from Young Writers in Gaza, Palestine