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.)