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PhD "Tales" - Pt2 - TW: Violence.

Thoughts on the Israel-Palestine conflict and the role of academia.

PhD "Tales" - Pt2 - TW: Violence.

2nd of November, 3 weeks of incessant and indiscriminate bombing on Gaza. More than 7000 Palestinians lost their lives.

The days have went by very quickly since my PhD started. I found myself alternating readings: an article on Inter-faith families in the UK one moment, an article on Palestinians killed, displaced and left in the dark, the second after. And after all these readings, all the discussions with my parents and friends, after all the podcasts and the documentaries, I found myself unable to write. I'm literally researching on the Inter-faith sector, shouldn't I be able to say something? - but nothing seems enough. And yet, how can I remain so silent?

Then, yesterday someone commented on my topic, saying that it was interesting and really matching the political moment we are in. And this is a strength, I thought. For a topic to fit in well with a massacre, is a strength in academia.

I was thinking about a paper I read, in which the author reflects on what is left with our interlocutors when we leave the field, have we just spoiled their stories, their narratives, their feelings, for the purpose of our monographs, conferences and careers?

I am not really interested whether or not the proximity of my topic to the death of thousands of Palestinians is an academic "strength". And more importantly, I have no intention to claim my research is also useful to someone or for something.

Don't get me wrong, I hope it will be. I hope that someone, in 4 years, will read my 100.000 words and take some good ideas on how to build a more peaceful Inter-faith society. But also, if this does happen what good will it do then to the 7000 people killed today? What good will it do to the parents left mourning their children? To the young people robbed of their future? To the elderly denied of a peaceful death?

And how many academics, sitting in Bloomsbury on comfy chairs inside marble buildings, wrote about this exact same topic in the 50s? in the 60s? in the 70s? in the 80s? in the 90s? How many published an article about Israel and Palestine in 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023?

This is not to say that we should stop researching and writing - we must continue, this is resistance too. Academia must not fall silent. But let’s not wash our souls with our writing. Our governments, our politics, our international laws have created and then let (and are letting) this horror unfold. And if we believe that these are democratic institutions then it is also our fault. We are all culpable. We've been culpable for 70 years. Let’s not forget that in our theoretical chapters.

This PhD journal is a bitter one. But how could it not be? My topic fits in well with a war crime.

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