Grant TypeConference Grant
Institutional AffiliationTel Aviv U.
Grant numberGr. CONF-854
Approve DateFebruary 1, 2021
Project TitleFurani , Khaled (Tel Aviv U.) Pessoptimism: Anthropologies of Palestinian Hope and Uncertainty
Nearly forty years ago, Edward Said identified two images that captured the unresolved condition of Palestinian existence: the identity card (“never Palestinian but always something else”) and Emile Habibi’s epic fictional character, the Pessoptimist (al-mutasha’il), “half here, half not here, part historical creature, part mythological invention, hopeful and hopeless.” Since Said made that observation, the existential uncertainty of Palestinian life under Israeli settler-colonial occupation has only deepened, and pessoptimism’s relevance––assimilating opposing states of hope and despair, being and non-being––has grown. While the anthropology of Palestine has, necessarily, engaged extensively with the category of hope––most often in relation to sumoud (“steadfastness” and resilience against all odds), collective political projects, and notions of futurity––less attention has been paid to forms of hope that are enabled and sustained by uncertainty. Insanniyat’s second academic conference reframes and extends the discussion of the possibilities and politics of Palestinian hope through the concept of pessoptimism. Bringing together international and Palestinian scholars from across the diaspora, this three-day biennial forum will explore pessoptimism’s theoretical potential as both critical optic and object of critical analysis. By engaging material and affective manifestations of hope in Palestinian society today and ways contingency and indeterminacy can generate hope by unsettling fixity and foreclosure, this conference will rethink and extend anthropological theorizations of hope in Palestine and beyond.