Palestine—and Empire—Are Central to Arab American/SWANA Studies

Louise Cainkar
Content Type
Journal Article
Journal of Palestine Studies
Issue Number
Publication Date
Institute for Palestine Studies
Taking the small number of ethnographic studies of Palestinian communities in North America as its problematic, this article situates that predicament in the larger context of decades of academic silencing of Arab American and SWANA (Southwest Asia and North Africa) studies, efforts that represent but one component of a larger political project to quash pro-Palestinian activism. Abetted by the absence of a racial category, scholars continue to face substantial hurdles at the institutional level, inhibiting the robust growth of the field and boding poorly for an expansion in community studies. Yet recent scholarship on Palestinians in North America— exemplified by the articles included in this special issue that center the complexities of identities; activism; and Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) solidarities—evidences real changes on the ground for Palestinian activism. Those changes, and continued advocacy for institutional change, are necessary to invigorate community studies, a critically important method of scholar-activist praxis because of their power to enhance a community’s access to resources, well-being, organizing capacities, and local-level power and solidarity building.
Political Activism, Solidarity, Academia, Identity, Palestine, BIPOC
Political Geography
South Asia, Palestine, North Africa, North America, West Asia