Doctoral Dissertation Research Marshall: Imaginary, Emotional and Everyday Spaces of Palestinian Childhood and Youth

  • Secor, Anna (PI)
  • Marshall, David (CoI)

Grants and Contracts Details


Summary and Significance: This study examines how young people living in a West Bank refugee camp negotiate and re-imagine everyday spaces in the context of military occupation and political resistance. By bringing to the fore underrepresented voices from this conflict, this research addresses a large gap in the literature on Israel/Palestine, contributes to a growing body of research on geographies of children and youth, and helps us to understand the lives of young people in Palestine, thus giving us greater insight into the future of the political situation. In order to understand how militarily and politically contested space is both encountered and re-appropriated by Palestinian youth this study answers four central research questions: 1.) What are the spaces of control that children encounter in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT)? How are these spaces conceived of and constructed by political and social forces including the Israeli military occupation, the Palestinian National Authority, non-governmental organizations, and parents? 2.) What daily activities and routines constitute the spatial practices of children in the OPT? 3.) What do the imagined or emotional landscapes of Palestinian children look like? In other words, what images, ideas, dreams, symbols or emotions do Palestinian children associate with the everyday spaces of their camp or with an imagined national homeland? 4.) How do the everyday spatial practices of Palestinian children, and the imagined or emotional geographies attached to everyday spaces, work to reinterpret, and thus disrupt, the implementation of spaces of control? Research Design: This project uses archival research and critical discourse analysis, as well as semi-structured interviews, in order to answer RQ1. Data for RQs 2, 3 & 4 will be collected by focus group interviews, using timelines and visual methodologies (mapping, drawing, photography) as elicitation devices within the focus groups. The Grounded Theory approach to data analysis will be used to analyze the data gathered in focus groups. Background: Since the start of the Palestinian intifada (or uprising) in 2000, over 1,400 Palestinian youths have been killed, with at least 430 killed and 1,872 injured during the winter 2009 Gaza assault alone (B’Tselem 2008; OCHA 2009; IRIN 2009). Given that over 60% of the population in the OPT is under the age of 19 (Monitor 2008), and given that the territories are highly urbanized and densely populated, it is as unsurprising as it is tragic that youths have born such a significant brunt of the fighting, characterized as it is by urban violence, where the damage, destruction or invasion of homes and schools is a regular occurrence. However, when the lives of children are so deeply implicated in this conflict, one has to wonder why so little scholarly work has focused on the lives and experiences of Palestinian youth. This project corrects that oversight from a uniquely geographic vantage point that examines the everyday spaces of childhood and youth in Palestine. Intellectual Merit: This study draws upon and engages with several different bodies of literature (everyday life and the production of space, feminist geopolitics, geographies of children and youth, as well as conflict studies), with the goal of developing new scholarship on children and youth geography in Palestine. Broader Impact: This proposed research is unique in that it will not only make valuable theoretical and empirical contributions to geographic scholarship, as well as research on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but will also contribute important policy-relevant information for non-governmental organizations and advocacy agencies concerned with the well-being of children; as well providing long-term insights into the future of the Palestinian situation by foregrounding the views and experiences of children and youth.
Effective start/end date6/1/1011/30/11


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