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Brown unveils Palestinian Studies fellowship

Postdoctoral fellow to focus on scholarship on Palestine, not Israeli-Palestinian conflict

The Department of Middle East Studies has introduced a new postdoctoral fellowship in Palestinian Studies as part of the new initiative “New Directions in Palestinian Studies.” The initiative seeks to “take stock of the scholarship produced on the Palestinians over the past generation,” said Beshara Doumani, director of Middle East Studies.

Doumani stressed that the department was spurred to introduce the fellowship by a desire to further scholarship on Palestine, rather than by current events in the region such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“There has reached a critical mass of knowledge in terms of quality and quantity in a way that’s never existed before, and this is the first initiative ever in this country that attempts to in a way build infrastructure for professionalization of this field,” he said.

A key priority in the University’s recently announced BrownTogether comprehensive campaign is investments in people, including postdoctoral fellows, particularly those from historically underrepresented groups.

The new fellowship will advance the department’s goal of joining “established and emerging scholars” to evaluate Palestine in the hopes of “shaping future studies on this topic,” Doumani said.

The fellow’s responsibilities will mirror those of postdoctoral fellows in other departments. The fellow will teach one course, work on research and have the option of transforming his or her dissertation into a monograph — a combination of a dissertation and a book.

As another part of the initiative, the fellow will help organize the University’s annual symposium on Palestinian studies and bring another perspective to the event. The Department of Middle East Studies has already held two conferences affiliated with “New Directions in Palestinian Studies” on campus.

In 2014, the conference “Political Economy and Economy of the Political” sought to examine “studies of Palestine that operate from the framework of political economy,” Doumani said. More recently, the 2015 conference “Political Cultures and the Cultures of Politics” aimed to “push the political beyond its conventional boundaries through both materialist and discursive analyses of political culture and the culture of politics,” according to the conference’s website.

This area is a “flourishing field of study” that the department wants to explore in greater depth, said Adi Ophir, visiting professor of humanities and Middle East studies.

The department expects 70 to 100 applications for the position, Doumani said. Successful applicants will apply their research on Palestine to “a larger set of issues that are both comparative and global,” he said.

The department welcomes applicants from a range of disciplines and perspectives, Ophir said.

Clarification: Due to an editing error, a previous version of this article implied that Director of Middle East Studies Beshara Doumani said the fellowship focuses on scholarship on Palestine, rather than on current events in the region. In fact, the fellowship could be used to focus on current events in the region, though its creation was spurred by a desire to further scholarship on Palestine generally.


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