My Dissertation

Palestinian universities are critical institutions for resisting epistemological effects of Israel’s settler-colonial project. Colonial discourses and physical infrastructures of the occupation militate against Palestinian knowledge production and prospects for sustaining Palestinian national identity on regional, community, and individual levels. Against this context, Palestinian institutions and educators can support the maintenance of Palestinian knowledge and pursuit of cognitive justice in internal and global discourses. Building beyond literature that explores Palestinian higher education against the backdrop of occupation and state-build efforts, this study seeks to develop a rich description of Palestinian higher education as an indigenous effort to resist epistemological effects of settler colonial discourses and infrastructures. Such a study would advance insight into the significance of indigenous educational institutions in settler colonial contexts.

Given the research aim, the design is a regional case study employing semi-structured interviews, document analysis, infrastructure mapping, and naturalistic observation. The researcher will interview faculty, administrators, and students from up to five institutions of higher education of diverse institutional sizes and types across various regions in the West Bank. Recruitment will originate with postings on academic platforms and proceed with chain referral sampling. Student recruitment will proceed through referrals from faculty participants. These interviews will provide semi-structured opportunities to explore perspectives, discourses, and narratives to develop descriptions of institutional context, character, and initiative. The researcher will also utilize maps, other documents, and direct, naturalistic observations, noting proximate infrastructures, institutions, and built environments, to situate campuses in contextual portraits for each locality. Findings from across research activities will allow the development of diverse regional comparisons.

This two-year study will enable a thorough exploration of the unique relationship between layered manifestations of the settler colonial environment and Palestinian higher education as well as the creative initiative of Palestinian actors in higher education who navigate these challenges while pursuing Palestinian claims.