Your work is not here : solidarity tourism in occupied Palestine

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2015-05
Authors
Kelly, Jennifer Lynn, 1982-
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Abstract

Your Work is Not Here: Solidarity Tourism in Occupied Palestine is a multi-sited ethnographic study of solidarity tourism in Palestine. Based on participant observation of solidarity tours in Israel/Palestine and interviews with guides, organizers, community members, tourists, and activists, my project traces the history of solidarity tourism in Palestine from informal delegations during the first intifada to the professionalization of alternative tourism today. I situate the turn to this organizing strategy in the historical context of the Oslo Accords, which fragmented the West Bank and simultaneously enabled unforeseen possibilities for commercial tourism in Palestine. Following the itineraries of organizers in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and inside Israel as they reject the borders and checkpoints crafted to divide them, I describe how Palestinian guides and organizers collectively use tourism to expose histories of expulsion and imagine a decolonized future for Palestine. My work details the fraught phenomenon of solidarity tourism, which requires Palestinian organizers to translate their experiences of dispossession into narratives international tourists can circulate while simultaneously underscoring international complicity in Israeli state practice. My project thus documents the affective labor of narration on the part of Palestinian guides and organizers, the contradictory politics of alliance and complicity on the part of Israeli activists, and the ethics of international, and particularly U.S., presence in Palestine as tourists. Taking as my subject a phenomenon that is often reductively constructed as either wholly exploitative or wholly redemptive, I analyze the complex ways in which solidarity tourism has emerged in Palestine as a viable organizing strategy and a business that is both embedded in and working against histories of sustained displacement. In this way, my project troubles how we understand “solidarity” and how we understand “tourism,” looking not only at the limitations of each, nor only at their radical potential, but at the uneven and asymmetrical ways they take shape in colonial contexts

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