The History of Gaza w/ Jean-Pierre Filiu & Rashid Khalidi

16 Feb 2024 – 17:00 - 18:00 GMT
Columbia University (online)

Join French historian Jean-Pierre Filiu as he provides insights into the past and present importance of Gaza in this virtual conversation with Rashid Khalidi.

About Gaza: A History

Through its millennium–long existence, Gaza has often been bitterly disputed while simultaneously and paradoxically enduring prolonged neglect. Jean-Pierre Filiu’s book is the first comprehensive history of Gaza in any language.

Squeezed between the Negev and Sinai deserts on the one hand and the Mediterranean Sea on the other, Gaza was contested by the Pharaohs, the Persians, the Greeks, the Romans, the Byzantines, the Arabs, the Fatimids, the Mamluks, the Crusaders and the Ottomans. Napoleon had to secure it in 1799 to launch his failed campaign on Palestine. In 1917, the British Empire fought for months to conquer Gaza, before establishing its mandate on Palestine.

In 1948, 200,000 Palestinians sought refuge in Gaza, a marginal area neither Israel nor Egypt wanted. Palestinian nationalism grew there, and Gaza has since found itself at the heart of Palestinian history. It is in Gaza that the fedayeen movement arose from the ruins of Arab nationalism. It is in Gaza that the 1967 Israeli occupation was repeatedly challenged, until the outbreak of the 1987 intifada. And it is in Gaza, in 2007, that the dream of Palestinian statehood appeared to have been shattered by the split between Fatah and Hamas. The endurance of Gaza and the Palestinians make the publication of this history both timely and significant.

About the speakers

Jean-Pierre Filiu is professor of Middle East Studies at Sciences Po, Paris. A historian and an Arabist, he has also held visiting professorships at the Universities of Columbia and Georgetown. Hurst and Oxford University Press published his Arab Revolution in 2011, Gaza, a History in 2014 (MEMO Book Award) and From Deep State to Islamic State in 2015, after University of California Press had published in 2011 his award-winning Apocalypse in Islam. He recently published  The Middle East, a Political History, from 395 to the Present with Polity, and Comment la Palestine fut perdu et pourquoi Israël n’a pas gagné: Histoire d’un conflit (XIX-XXIe siècle) with Seuil. Filiu’s books have been translated in more than fifteen languages, including Arabic and Turkish.

Rashid Khalidi is Edward Said Professor of Modern Arab Studies at Columbia University.  He is editor of the Journal of Palestine Studies, and was President of the Middle East Studies Association, and an advisor to the Palestinian delegation to the Madrid and Washington Arab-Israeli peace negotiations from October 1991 until June 1993. He is author of: The Hundred Years’ War on Palestine: A History of Settler Colonialism and Resistance, 1917- 2017 (2020); Brokers of Deceit: How the U.S. has Undermined Peace in the Middle East (2013); Sowing Crisis: American Dominance and the Cold War in the Middle East (2009); The Iron Cage: The Story of the Palestinian Struggle for Statehood (2006); Resurrecting Empire: Western Footprints and America’s Perilous Path in the Middle East (2004); Palestinian Identity: The Construction of Modern National Consciousness (1996); Under Siege: PLO Decision-Making During the 1982 War (1986); British Policy Towards Syria and Palestine, 1906-1914 (1980); and co-editor of Palestine and the Gulf (1982) and The Origins of Arab Nationalism (1991), and The Other Jerusalem: Rethinking the History of the Sacred City (2020).

This virtual conversation is co-sponsored by the Department of History, MESAAS, the Columbia Maison Française, the Society of Fellows and Heyman Center for the Humanities, the Acting Dean of Humanities, and the Middle East Institute at Columbia.

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