online - talk
Colonial Ecological Violence
Islam El-Khatib

Thursday 17 June 2021 | 6pm Amman Time

In Palestine, settler colonialism constructs political and social life through a continuous appropriation and occupation of land. It is culturally enforced through practices that obscure or erase the Palestinian people. A recent example is currently happening in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, where the Palestinian refugees whom Zionists expelled from their towns and villages following the 1948 Nakba live. About 28 families are currently facing eviction from their homes, although they have already paid for it. In the 1950s, the Jordanian government, with the United Nations, reached an agreement to settle these families in Jerusalem in exchange for their UNRWA documents. As Aseel Jundi pointed out in a recent article, "according to international law, an occupying country cannot forcibly transfer the population of the occupied territories because it is obligated to maintain the population's demographic composition." In the age of climate change, epidemics, and crises, housing has become an environmental issue. Settler colonialism is a socio-environmental construct that produces and maintains a radical and permanent inequality between settlers and the Palestinian people. Consequently, it disrupts ecological and social relationships producing what J.M. Bacon terms Colonial Ecological Violence, which results in specific perils and damages to peoples and societies such as dispossession and land burning at the hands of settlers.

We see the current period as a political moment that we can use to review the roots and history of environmental, feminist theories and movements worldwide and reflect on our reality and issues in the region to chart a path that we can benefit from today. Environmental feminism is a broad and spiritually rooted school of thought; How can we analyze and understand the Palestinian context from an anti-colonial, ecofeminist perspective? How can we make use of environmental, feminist tools?

Islam El-Khatib is a Palestinian living in Beirut who writes about pathos, the environment, and imagined worlds. She recently worked on a book on the human age and its manifestations in the Middle East and North Africa.