“Elastic Empire: Refashioning War through Aid in Palestine” – A book talk with Lisa Bhungalia

Date / Time

March 25, 2024

12:00 pm - 1:30 pm

The Institute for the Humanities‘ Global Middle East Studies Working Group presents “Elastic Empire: Refashioning War through Aid in Palestine – A book talk with Lisa Bhungalia.”

The U.S,-led “war on terror” has been waged largely in the shadows: black sites, extraordinary renditions, covert drone programs, secret global surveillance, terrorism laws and security databases. Elastic Empire tracks a little-known but ever-expanding dimension of U.S. counterterrorism: laws and sanctions that are tied to foreign aid flows and monetary transactions around the world. Drawing on a decade of ethnographic fieldwork in Palestine, Lisa Bhungalia traces how the U.S. empire is embedded in humanitarian aid flows to the West Bank and Gaza Strip, transporting Washington’s counterterrorism regime into the intimate spaces of Palestinian life — a greenhouse in Gaza, a library in Bethlehem, the collection of personal information and mapping of land plots and the halls of municipal councils. Elastic Empire suggests that a close analysis of the U.S. security state in Palestine reveals the shape-shifting nature of imperial formations and their obscured but intimate forms.

Lisa Bhungalia is an assistant professor of geography at Kent State University, researching late-modern war, law, and empire. Her first book, “Elastic Empire: Refashioning War through Aid in Palestine,” was published by Stanford University Press in December 2023. She is starting new research on the social lives of terrorism databases.

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