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Slugs & Steins: Jennifer Lynn Kelly – Invited to Witness: Solidarity Tourism Across Occupied Palestine
June 13, 2022 @ 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm | Virtual Event
Drawing from her research on solidarity tours in Palestine, Jennifer Kelly shows how solidarity tourism in Palestine functions as a fraught localized political strategy, and an emergent industry, through which Palestinian organizers refashion conventional tourism to the region by extending deliberately truncated invitations to tourists to come to Palestine and witness the effects of Israeli state practice on Palestinian land and lives. She shows how Palestinian organizers both extend and redefine this invitation to witness, as well as intervene in tourist demands for evidence and desire for performances of trauma by asking tourists to instead confront the violence of their own desire in Palestine. She also details the conditions that have led Palestinians to make their case through solidarity tourism in the first place, describing the ways in which tourists travel to Palestine to see the effects of Israeli occupation for themselves despite the volumes of literature Palestinians have produced on their own condition. In this way, Kelly shows how Palestinian organizers, under the constraints of military occupation, and in a context in which they do not control their borders or the historical narrative, wrest both the capacity to invite and, in Edward Said’s words, “the permission to narrate” from Israeli control.
Jennifer Lynn Kelly is an Assistant Professor of Feminist Studies and Critical Race and Ethnic Studies at University of California, Santa Cruz. Her research broadly engages questions of settler colonialism, U.S. empire, and the fraught politics of both tourism and solidarity. Her first book, Invited to Witness: Solidarity Tourism Across Occupied Palestine (Duke University Press, Spring 2023), is a multi-sited interdisciplinary ethnographic study of solidarity tourism in Palestine. In it, she analyzes the ways in which solidarity tourism has emerged in Palestine as an organizing strategy that is both embedded in and working against histories of sustained displacement. Her next project, co-edited with Somdeep Sen (Rothskilde University) and Lila Sharif (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) is Detours: A Decolonial Guide to Palestine, an edited volume in the Detours Series at Duke University Press.