Performing Democracy: The Problem of Political Representation In Investigative Commissions To Palestine, 1919-2009

A lecture by Lori Allen (School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London)

In this talk Lori Allen examines some of the numerous investigative commissions that have visited Palestine throughout the last century. Each offers a lens onto systems of political thought and global institutions through which Palestinian worthiness to self-rule has been debated and evaluated. Investigative commissions have functioned as a liberal colonial device—one that operates on a pretense to consultation. They are a method of persuading contestants to the conflict that dialogue, civility, and democracy are the means to political resolution, and that international management of the conflict is happening on a firm basis of objective fact. This talk discusses the ideological work that happens through these commissions.

Lori Allen is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Anthropology at SOAS, University of London, and currently a Member of the Institute for Advanced Study. She received her PhD in Anthropology from the University of Chicago, where she also did her BA and MA. Her work focuses on Palestinian politics, and she has published on topics in the anthropology of nationalism, violence, gender, and human rights. Her first book, The Rise and Fall of Human Rights: Cynicism and Politics in Occupied Palestine, was published in 2013 with Stanford University Press, and won the Association for Political and Legal Anthropology book prize. Her current project, A Genealogy of Political Proof: Making Facts Through Investigative Commissions In Palestine, 1919-2009, is a historical-ethnographic inquiry into international investigative commissions to Palestine. It explores the differential effects of commissions as they invite argument about the nature and bases of proper political relations, becoming key fora in which forms and producers of governmental knowledge are legitimated or discredited.

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Duration: 46:28

Published: Monday, April 10, 2017