MAAS Students Joudah and Kellou Are Co-Winners of Oxtoby Prize

CCAS is pleased to announce the co-winners of the Willard J. Oxtoby essay prize for an outstanding essay by a Georgetown graduate student on the question of Palestine and Middle East peace. Congratulations goes to Nour Joudah and Doroth̩e Kellou, both MAAS students, for their respective papers.

Dr. Willard Oxtoby was Professor of Comparative Religion at the University of Toronto’s Trinity College and served as founding director of its Centre for the Study of Religion from 1976 to 1981. Throughout his life, he was deeply concerned with the situation of the Palestinians and was a strong advocate of a peaceful and just solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict. This award is given in his memory by his family and friends.

Ms. Joudah‰Ûªs paper is entitled ‰ÛÏThe Politics of Procrastination: The Palestinian Realm.‰Û She obtained her undergraduate degree in international studies in May 2009 from Maryville College. Prior to entering the MAAS program, she worked as an Assistant Canvas Director coordinating fundraising field campaigns for non-profit organizations. She is currently conducting research on the role and perception of exile politics within the Palestinian liberation struggle. She is also the Research and Development Manager for the Arab Studies Journal and is a researcher for

Ms. Kellou‰Ûªs paper is entitled ‰ÛÏGraffiti on the Wall: Resistance in the Absence of the Subject.‰Û She obtained her undergraduate degree in September 2007 from the Institute of Political Sciences in Lyon, where she majored in international relations and minored in Arab studies. Previously, she was in charge of following multiple cases of evictions of Palestinian families from East Jerusalem by a group of Israeli settlers. She is a Fulbright student enrolled in the MAAS program. Her research interests include Palestine, North Africa, and post-structuralism.

Abstract for ‰ÛÏThe Politics of Procrastination: The Palestinian Realm,‰Û by Nour Joudah

An individual or group can procrastinate out of either habit or indecision; however, they can also employ the act of procrastination as an intentional means to delay completion of a specific mission or undertaking. In the case of an undertaking in which multiple parties are involved, the results of such an intentional employment of procrastination can manifest as the altering of the mission itself or even the foiling of eventual success. In the case of Palestine, this definition of procrastination and potential reasons for its use illustrate the path taken by the Palestinian leadership in the internationally hailed ‰ÛÏpeace process.‰Û

While such a path of procrastination in addressing the fundamental points of contention between Palestinians and Israelis has been paved by a longer running Israeli strategy, the willingness of the Palestinian leadership to adopt it is also responsible for the entrenchment of procrastination as official policy. The paper‰Ûªs analytical framework discusses two realms of political procrastination and their use by the actors involved as a strategy for survival. The first realm consists of the use of procrastination by Israel to redefine the circumstances being negotiated and the discourse around those circumstances, the rationale of which indicates recognition within Israeli leadership of the greater structural complications of their Zionist ambitions. The second realm, the focus of the paper, involves the PLO‰Ûªs acceptance of the Oslo Accords and the subsequent creation of the Palestinian Authority (PA). It regards the Oslo Accords and the peace process that followed as a formal institutionalization of Israeli-supported procrastination and entrenchment, which were embedded in the newly created PA‰ÛÓthus engulfing the PLO and its reputation.

Abstract for ‰ÛÏGraffiti on the Wall: Resistance in the Absence of the Subject,‰Û by DorothÌ©e Kellou

The paper examines graffiti on the Israeli Separation Wall in the West Bank, such as images drawn by the British graffiti artist Banksy, and how Palestinians perceive the graffiti. Through the lens of Foucault‰Ûªs Panopticon, the author first explores the disciplinary power of the Wall‰Ûªs space, which is under constant and all-encompassing surveillance by Israeli soldiers in watchtowers. Drawing on James Scott’s theory, the paper then asks whether the practice of drawing on the Wall is a form of subaltern resistance to a hegemonic colonial power. Despite the general assumption that the action signifies defiance, Kellou‰Ûªs research shows that other factors should be considered.

Although Palestinians generally value the quality of artwork produced, the majority of those who Kellou interviewed found the use of the Wall as a canvas inappropriate, and condemn on moral grounds the beautification of the Wall. Though some works of art, such as Banksy’s, are perceived as symbolically subversive to the power structure, overall those interviewed do not find the graffiti effective as a form of resistance.

The fact that current graffiti on the Wall‰ÛÓas opposed to graffiti in the Gaza Strip or graffiti drawn during the first Intifada‰ÛÓis primarily produced by pro-Palestinian Western artists and visitors for a Western, English-speaking audience, creates a distance, if not a divorce, from the reality of the Palestinian lives depicted‰ÛÓand may dilute Palestinian voices as well. Commodification is also at play, as counting the number of Westerners who visit a website that depicts images of the graffiti becomes more important than assessing the potential political change brought about by the art.