Current Institutional Affiliation
Assistant Professor, Department of Behavior and Social Sciences, Birzeit University

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2008
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Anthropology, University of California / Davis
Interrogating "Painful" Encounters: The Interrogation Encounter between Palestinian Political Activists and the Shabak

I intend to investigate the Palestinian-Israeli conflict from the viewpoint of the interrogation-encounter between Palestinian political activists and the shabak (Israeli General Security Service) during forty years of Israeli occupation to Palestinian territories (1967-2007). Since 1967 more than 650,000 Palestinians have been arrested and interrogated by Israel. This figure constitutes approximately 20% of the total Palestinian population in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and 40% of Palestinian males (Addameer 2007). Therefore, one cannot understand the Palestinian/Israeli relationship without understanding the conceptualizations and practices related to the interrogation-encounter. Based on one year of fieldwork in Jerusalem and Ramallah, this research project examines how the violent interrogation-encounter has shaped -and been re-shaped by- understandings of torture and pain perceived by Palestinian political activists and the Palestinian community they belong to, as well as the shabak and the state of Israel it represents. Specifically, the research examines Palestinian and Israeli conceptualizations of torture and pain, the strategies used to construct these conceptualizations, and their resulting practices within the interrogation-encounter. The interrogation-encounter is a revealing site for analyzing how Palestinians and Israelis have been mutually constituted throughout their conflict. While locally grounded in the historical-political context of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and the encounter that shapes Palestinians' and Israelis' systems of meaning and practices, this research addresses broader questions concerning violent encounters in colonial settings, the mutual constitution of disciplining and resistance technologies, and the multiplicity of social-cultural and political significations of torture and pain as well as the various agential practices exerted by them.