Caring for the ordinary in Palestine: When ongoing occupation becomes maddening

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

This article offers a reading of contemporary life in Palestine that interrogates the braiding of hope and despair through an examination of expressions of optimism and madness in Palestinian everyday life. Whereas I neither aim to define what madness nor optimism could be taken to mean, I examine vernacular notions of how, when, and why the notion of madness is used in ordinary language, anchored in ethnographic fieldwork in occupied Palestine as well as conversations with Palestinian interlocutors over the last sixteen years. The aim being to explore the experiential and linguistic abyss between a collective feeling of Israel's occupation as a maddening force and, on the other hand, the accompanying call on part of the Palestinians to act as if it was not, the will to endure and resist being unwavering. Ultimately, I pursue the argument that the chasm between these two different pressures causes a feeling of skepticism due to the braided struggle of finding a language that can both acknowledge the occurrence of mental disorder as a consequence of the military occupation simultaneously as Palestinians carve out a space to sustain an ordinary in the wake of maddening oppression. Concludingly, I argue that gender is at the heart of how we might understand, even locate the refusal to end in Palestine—the maddening consequences intrinsic to such a refusal being the locus of my inquiry.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)437-460
Number of pages24
JournalAnthropological Quarterly
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 30 Aug 2023

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • madness
  • Palestine
  • endurance
  • skepticism
  • care
  • ethics
  • ordinary


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