Randa May Wahbe

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Harvard U.

Grant number

Gr. 9853

Approve Date

April 30, 2019

Project Title

Wahbe, Randa (Harvard U.) "Dead Bodies, Living Archive: Post-Mortem Surveillance in Palestine/Israel"

RANDA WAHBE, then a graduate student at Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, was award a grant in April 2019 to aid research on “Dead Bodies, Living Archive: Post-Mortem Surveillance in Palestine/Israel,” supervised by Dr. Ajantha Subramanian. Does punishing the dead eliminate indigenous resistance? This dissertation examines this question through an ethnographic and archival investigation of Israel’s policy to confiscate Palestinian corpses that are then used for political negotiations, creating an economy of dead bodies. This project traces the history of the Palestinian revolution through various sites of corpse confiscation — from those killed at borders, in prisons, and at checkpoints — to reveal the intersections of carceral, border, and settler-colonial systems. Though the COVID-19 pandemic caused a global lockdown during the early fieldwork stages, by relying on archival and media research and previously collected ethnographic data, the researcher formulated the concept of a “politics of karameh (dignity)” that shapes the Palestinian enduring resilience to Israel’s tactics of elimination. By examining the post-mortem criminalization of Palestinians, the research conducted during this grant helped to refine the argument that the politics of death, grief and mourning are critical sites for exploring questions of Indigenous rights, sovereignty, and belonging in ongoing contexts of settler colonialism. During the grant tenure, the author published one peer-reviewed article with a summary of these findings and presented preliminary research at an academic conference.