Prof. Sa’ed Atshan’s Book, Queer Palestine, Awarded Honorable Mention for the 2021 Benedict Prize

The Ruth Benedict Prize Committee of the Association for Queer Anthropology has awarded Queer Palestine and the Empire of Critique, written by Peace and Conflict Studies Associate Professor Sa’ed Atshan, an honorable mention for the 2021 Benedict Prize.

The Association for Queer Anthropology (AQA) website provides more information about the prize: “The Ruth Benedict Prize is presented each year at the American Anthropological Association’s annual meeting to acknowledge excellence in a scholarly book written from an anthropological perspective about a lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender topic. The Ruth Benedict Prize is awarded in each of two separate categories: one for a single-authored monograph and another for an edited volume. Submissions may be on any topic related to lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people, or other gender / sexual formations and categories from any world culture area. Topics may include the study of normativity, queer theory, and the social/historical construction of sexual and gender identities, discourses and categories. Authors may represent any scholarly discipline, but the material submitted must engage anthropological theories and methods.”

AQA commends Prof. Atshan’s monograph, writing, “This is a most timely and admirably courageous book that challenges the seeming gap between queer activism and anthropology. Atshan traces the rise of the global queer Palestinian solidarity movement from 2002 on, and explores why, since 2012, the movement plateaued — no longer growing nor receding. Drawing on longstanding conversations with queer activists in Israel/Palestine and the diaspora, the author shows how, in recent years, critiques of empire have ironically given rise to an “empire of critique”: an uneven (and often toxic) global field of debate, in which activists and academics based in the West can criticize Palestinian activists in ways that undermine their solidarity-building efforts and expand extant regimes of surveillance, suspicion, and control. An example in this regard are the so-called “radical purists” who believe that there is only one truth about any given oppressive situation and about how to practice liberation. In contrast, Atshan shows that anthropology has the potential to support local activist struggles against homophobia and imperialism by rigorously engaging with, rather than dismissing, the experiences and views of these activists—their simultaneous engagement with multiple axes of oppression.”

Queer Palestine and the Empire of Critique by Sa’ed Atshan (Stanford: 2020)