The Attractions of Accountancy: Living an Ordinary Life during the Second Palestinian Intifada

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This article explores the meanings and implications of the 'ordinary' in the midst of political violence. Alongside the spectacular acts of violence that have dominated the newspaper headlines, for most Palestinians the second intifada has also been marked by boredom and frustration. In the recent growth of the ethnography of armed conflict, there has been a danger of over-determining violence, ignoring the mundane nature of most political conflicts. This article therefore turns the recent ethnographic approach to political conflict on its head and focuses on the apparently mundane. In doing so, the article argues that for West Bank Palestinians, a sense of the ordinary is rooted in the obligations of kinship, and moves constantly between the 'is' and the 'ought', the mundane and the frightening, and the active and the passive. It is this movement that gives the 'ordinary' such purchase, as it allows concrete experiences to be linked to distant aspirations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)351-376
Number of pages26
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2008


  • violence
  • the ordinary
  • Israeli-Palestinian conflict
  • second intifada
  • boredom

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