Roundtable on Palestinian Diaspora and Representaion

by Noura Erakat

“[T]he formation of a diaspora could be articulated as the quintessential journey into becoming; a process marked by incessant regroupings, recreations, and reiteration. Together these stressed actions strive to open up new spaces of discursive and performative postcolonial consciousness.” -Okwui Enwezor

In the wake of Arab revolutions across North Africa and the Gulf, a new discussion on Palestinian self-determination has emerged. While all such discussions touch on foreign colonization, this one is more or less internal to the Palestinian national body as it grapples with issues of representation, self-rule, and democratic governance. Within less than two decades of their first instance of forcible displacement, Palestinians constructed a transnational government in exile in the cause of self-determination. These structures aimed to build participatory self-governance. In the absence of citizenship, they also functioned to define membership in the national project. The Oslo Accords, and more specifically the transfer of Palestinian government from exile to the occupied West Bank and Gaza resulted in a new administrative government that was charged with state building. This administrative government positioned itself opposition to liberation politics while simultaneously undermining the strength and utility of trans-national structures.