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Before the New Sky: Protracted Struggle and Possibilities of the Beyond for Palestine's New Youth Movement


Before the New Sky: Protracted Struggle and Possibilities of the Beyond for Palestine's New Youth Movement is a transnational ethnographic account of Palestinian youth movements before and after the 2011 Arab uprisings. Situated in the context of the post-1993 Oslo Accords—or negotiations and peace process paradigm—this work investigates some of the challenges and opportunities posited on Palestinian youth through this period and in the aftermath of the 2011 Arab uprisings. I have compiled my ethnographic archive through attending forty-six Palestinian youth convenings between 2006 and 2017 as a founder, member and leader within the Palestinian Youth Movement (PYM). I also conducted interviews with forty-five Palestinian youth from Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Greece, Sweden, Denmark, France, Italy, Turkey and the United States from 2016 and 2018. Building upon the Palestinian literary tradition, I refer to sites of exhausted paradigms and regimes as "the last sky"—that which the Palestinian intellectual and political tradition warned of and attempted to halt its arrival. I argue that the Palestinians have endured three last skies: the first, resultant of an enclosure of land, sea and skies due to colonial occupation, siege and dispossession marked by the 1948 Palestinian Nakba, or catastrophe, onward; the second, caused by persistent annihilation of Palestinian narrative and testimony in the historic record; and the last arriving with the 1993 Oslo Accords, which foreclosed upon political genealogies of struggle for the new generation and fractured their relationships to history, land and Palestinian peoplehood across ideological and geographic dispersions. I argue that these three last skies constitute a Palestinian ontology of Nakba, whereby Palestinian life, knowledge and movements endure constant catastrophe, forcing new generations to build anew each time. This dissertation thus examines how youth have come to articulate, practice and theorize politics despite, and perhaps because of, this ontology of Nakba, including in everyday forms of resistance and in organized movement-building attempts. My dissertation draws from and contributes to theories on Palestine and the Palestinians, transnational movements, youth resistance, critical knowledge production, and anti/de-colonial political and intellectual methodologies.

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