Columbia Launches Center for Palestinian Studies

I’m still a little stunned, actually. And pleased. And stunned.

I wasn’t aware that we Americans were really quite allowed to study Palestine. But indeed, today marks the launch of Columbia University’s Center for Palestinian Studies. According to the International Business Times, Columbia is the first U.S. university to house a center dedicated to the study of Palestinian art, literature, politics, architecture, film, and society.

The center will be publicly launched tonight at 7:30 p.m.

Brinkley Messick, chair of Columbia’s Anthropology Department and co-director of the new Center for Palestinian Studies, told the International Business Times that the center honors the scholarly legacy of Edward Said, who taught at Columbia for 40 years.

In keeping with Said’s legacy, the center will teach—among other things—comparative literature. One of the course listings, “Cultures of Colonialism” taught by Bashir Abu-Manneh, promises to examine:

The significance of colonial encounter, statehood, and dispossession in Palestinian and Israeli cultures from 1948 to the present, examined in a range of cultural forms: poetry, political tracts, cinema, fiction, memoirs, and travel writing. Authors include: Darwish, Grossman, Habibi, Khalifeh, Khleifi, Kanafani, Oz, Shabtai, Shalev, and Yehoshua.

Also, next year, Ahdaf Souief will give the 2011 Edward Said Memorial Lecture. (New Yorkers: Mark your calendars for March 8, 2011.) Surely there are more events to come. Find out about them by joining the Center for Palestine Studies Facebook group.

(And yes, there are at least a couple Centers for Israeli Studies in the U.S., including one at NYU and one at American University in D.C.)


  1. What a gift to wake to this morning. I am learning so much from your blog. You can not imagine how much you are appreciated and how far and wide I have distributed the information… via little old Kentucky. Peace and health and books, Sophie

    1. Sophie,
      And what a delight to have you around. I learn a lot from organizing ArabLit as well. Please let me know if there’s a book you’re particularly passionate about; if you’d like to do a guest post/guest review.

    1. Of course, I had nothing to do with it. 🙂 Except sitting in Cairo and being quite pleased.

  2. Thanks for this news. Columbia’s website doesn’t seem to mention it, but for anyone interested, here in the UK there is already an European Centre for Palestine studies based at Exeter University headed by Professor Ilan Pappé (though this seems to be more social sciences oriented so far):

    1. Thanks, Radiyah! I knew about the Institute for Palestinian Studies, but not the Centre based in Exeter. Appreciate the info.

  3. The Center for Palestine Studies is much welcomed in Canada where there is a hunger for knowledge of the real Palestine, its rich but neglected history and culture, and its people.

    A just-published book, launched in Toronto, “Hidden Histories: Palestine and the Eastern Mediterranean,” by Basem L. Ra’ad, unveils new information and insights about a land claimed by three monotheisms, about which little is known other than the thin thread of religious and mis-leading mythologies, old and new. Such work would complement the Center’s studies and could provide ideas for future important research.

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