Colloquium: Ron Smith on Gaza and the Occupation of the West Bank

This Friday, February 18th, Ron Smith will present a talk entitled “Processing a Peace and Strangling a Nation: The Siege on Gaza and the Occupation of the West Bank. The talk will take place in Smith 304 at 3:30, with a reception to follow in Smith 409. An abstract of the talk can be found below.

The Egyptian revolution has brought renewed attention to the effects of local, regional, and US foreign policy in the middle east. While commentators still mobilize geopolitical visions of the middle east, featuring besieged democracies and islamist terrorists held in check only by tyrannical regimes, there is a new generation of geographers that are taking up the call to challenge this conventional view. Palestine in particular represents a failure of the geopolitical imagination, where a status quo that is untenable for the occupied population is maintained through appeals to multiple moribund peace processes to satisfy the international community. Mobilizing approaches of critical geopolitics, this paper examines the very local and personal impacts of Israeli occupation policy on the people of the Gaza Strip. Contributing to Sara Roy’s theoretical analysis of the processes of de-development, this presentation explores the political economy of the siege through interviews, sketch maps, and critical analysis. This paper is part of a larger project of qualitative research conducted over 5 years with over 1 year of total field work that investigates microgeographies of occupation. Processing a Peace presents analysis of the Gazan borders as a particular site of social control, a microgeography of incarceration in its own right, with dramatic effects that reverberate throughout Palestinian society, and the region as a whole.

RON SMITH is a doctoral candidate at the University of Washington in the Department of Geography. He has conducted qualitative research in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip for the past five years. Before pursing his doctorate in Geography, he worked as a documentary film maker and journalist throughout Latin America. His primary research interests revolve around contemporary political geographies of colonialism and diverse forms of local and transnational social organizing and resistance.

Michael Honey on Martin Luther King & Social Justice

This Friday, January 21st, Michael Honey will speak on “Revisiting King’s Vision of Labor Rights and Social Justice,” at 3:30pm in Smith 407.

Professor Honey, Haley Professor of Humanities at UW-Tacoma, will discuss how labor history is changing our understanding of the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. Professor Honey has just published a new edition of King’s speeches on labor and to labor unions, titled All Labor Has Dignity. In this collection, Dr. Honey draws attention to alliances that King worked to cultivate between the civil rights movement and labor unions., explaining that “people forget that Dr. King was every bit as committed to economic justice as he was to ending racial segregation.”

Honey’s book has attracted widespread critical praise, including this evaluation from eminent American History Professor Eric Foner of Columbia University

“Michael Honey, a distinguished scholar of labor and African-American History, has done a great service by gathering Martin Luther King, Jr.’s speeches on labor, may of them previously unknown.  He brings to life the King who from the outset of his public career insisted that ‘the evil of economic injustice’ must be combated along with racial inequality, and who saw the effort to eliminate poverty as a natural outgrowth of the civil rights struggle.  This is a more complex King than we celebrate every January, forever frozen on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial delivering his ‘I Have a Dream Speech.’  King’s dream called for nothing less than a radical restructuring of American economic life.”