On 5-6 October 2013, the Palestine Society at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London will hold its ninth annual conference, Self-Critique Two Decades After Oslo.
Twenty years after the signing of the Oslo Accords, much continues to be written about the structural and subsequent failings of the Accords to achieve justice for the Palestinian people. While conventional views still regard Oslo as a winning formula that only suffered from a lack of implementation, critical analysis of the Oslo process agrees that the Accords only accelerated the Zionist settler colonial project, allowing Israel to lay siege and further expand its grip on Palestinian land, while expelling and destroying the lives of more Palestinians. This conference aims to move beyond this critical consensus and identify the internal failures prior to, and at the moment of, the conception of the Oslo Accords, as well as in its aftermath. In doing so, we will attempt to understand how Oslo has transformed Palestinian life and struggle. The conference situates itself within a long history of self-criticism after defeat – a self-criticism aimed at assessing the strategic failures of the movement, and formulating the necessary steps ahead. This is a self-criticism premised on a commitment to the political rebuilding of the Palestinian liberation movement, and the struggle against settler colonialism.
In its embrace of self-criticism, the conference will focus on the ways Palestinian leadership and elites have become embedded in the logic of settler colonialism, embraced neoliberal capitalism, and reproduced social and political accommodation of the Oslo process. However, it also aims to widen our lens, and examine the growing socialisation and reproduction of Oslo logics in Palestinian political and social life, and the ways in which Palestinian resistance against Oslo and Israel, and international solidarity with that resistance, has reproduced the very conditions it seeks to overturn. In particular, we hope to highlight the context and consequences of the re-orientation of the liberation struggle into a legal and rights-based approach; the political, geographical, and social separation of the Palestinian body politic in movement discourse and strategy; the proliferation of an unaccountable “political solution/vision market” and unchecked practices of solidarity; and growing alienation and distancing of Palestinians from others engaged in similar struggles against settler-colonialism.
With this conference, SOAS Palestine Society hopes to build on its long-standing commitment to rigorous movement thought and analysis in an emancipatory space.
Check the Conference Programme here: soaspalsoc.org/conference/programme/
Illustration by Nidal El-Khairy (http://nidalelkhairy.blogspot.be/)