1st Edition

The Palestinian Authority in the West Bank The Theatrics of Woeful Statecraft

By Michelle Pace, Somdeep Sen Copyright 2019
    114 Pages
    by Routledge

    114 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    The Palestinian Authority in the West Bank explores the manner in which the Palestinian Authority’s performative acts affect and shape the lives and subjective identities of those in its vicinity in the occupied West Bank. The nature of Palestinians’ statelessness has to contend with the rituals of statecraft that the Palestinian Authority (PA) and its Palestinian functionaries engage in. These rituals are also economically maintained by an international donor community and are vehemently challenged by Palestinian activists, antagonistic to the prevalence of the statist agenda in Palestine.

    Conceptually, the understanding of the PA’s ‘theater of statecraft’ is inspired by Judith Butler’s conception of performativity as one that encompasses several repetitive and ritual performative acts. The authors explore what they refer to as the ‘fuzzy state' (personified in the form and conduct of the PA) looks like for those living it, from the vantage point of PA institutions, NGOs, international representative offices, and activists. Methodologically, the book adopts an ethnographic approach, by way of interviews and observations in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.

    The Palestinian Authority in the West Bank makes an important and long-due intervention by integrating performance studies and politics to suggest an understanding of the theatrics of woeful statecraft in Palestine. The book is an essential resource for students and scholars interested in the study of the state, International Relations and Politics, Palestine Studies, and the Middle East.

    Prelude  1. The Theatrics of the ‘State’: An Introduction  2. Palestine and the ‘Global’ imperative of State-Building  3. The Palestinian Authority and its ‘anxious’ functionaries  4. Operating in the shadow of the ‘state’: The case of civil society organizations  5. The ‘state’ and its ‘unwilling’ subjects  6. Conclusion  Bibilography


    Michelle Pace is Professor (MSO) at Roskilde University’s Department of Social Sciences and Business. She is also Honorary Professor in Politics and International Studies at the University of Birmingham in the UK. Her research areas of interest include migration studies, memory studies, and emotions in IR.

    Somdeep Sen is a postdoctoral researcher at Roskilde University. His research centers on spatial politics, settler colonialism, postcolonialism, and migration in the Middle East and Europe. He has published on the Israeli–Palestinian ‘conflict’ and co-edited a volume on Syrian refugee children’s journeys in exile (Routledge, 2018)

    "What is the meaning of the state in Occupied Palestine? Pace and Sen trace this crucial question in their fascinating and innovative book, detailing how the Palestinian Authority and other actors engage in performances of statehood. A must-read for anyone wanting to untangle the seeming paradox of the stateless state of Palestine." Sophie Richter-DevroeHamad Bin Khalifa University

    "The book brilliantly examines the crucial aporia into which the Palestinian struggle for national liberation has ended up: the inhibition of the establishment of a Palestinian state as a result of the very theatrical statehood machinery performed by the Palestinian Authority with the support of the international community. Reconstructing the post-Oslo attempts to create the new unachievable sovereign entity and carefully navigating the conflictual political emotions of the key characters in this tragedy, Pace and Sen offer a thoughtful and provocative gaze on one of the most complex cases of self-determination in contemporary history." Nicola PeruginiThe University of Edinburgh

    "This book is a significant contribution to the study of Palestinian politics and the struggle for freedom and human rights. It is a meticulous dismantling of the 'state building' myth that has long been promoted by the Palestinian Authority and its backers among the 'donor' countries.
    Michelle Pace and Somdeep Sen offer a rare evaluation of a subject that has long been unjustifiably ignored or hastily grouped under ostensibly more urgent contexts concerning Israeli ‘security’ and American foreign policy. The authors have provided a concise analysis of the Palestinian reality under the PA, one which is grounded in exhaustive research, backed by ethnographic evidence. It convincingly explains why various political actors, Palestinians and others, collude to promote the farce that the PA is in the process