Center for Palestine Studies

The Center for Palestine Studies

Launched in 2010, the Center for Palestine Studies (CPS) promotes the academic study of Palestine by supporting research, teaching, and intellectual collaboration among scholars within Columbia University and beyond. CPS provides an institutional home for faculty, post-doctoral researchers, and students at Columbia in fields that include history, literary studies, the social sciences, religion, philosophy, law, archaeology, architecture, and the arts. CPS also builds connections with other institutions and scholars to strengthen the academic study of Palestine and Palestinians throughout the United States and the world.

The center’s programming ambitions initially included three principal areas: “The Arts,” “Law,” and “History of the Present.” The Arts programming has comprised Palestinian poetry, literature, photography, and dance, although the main emphases have been on theater and film, with the latter eventually supported by dedicated funding for a series called “Palestine Cuts.” The Law project is intended to promote legal scholarship on Palestinians living under Israeli rule. In recent years, together with its partner, Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, CPS developed a project on “The Nakba and Law,” which received Dutch funding. This also provided for an important new blog, “The Nakba Files” (http://nakbafiles.org/), launched in spring, 2016, and for an international workshop convened in Palestine on December 7-8, 2016. The center’s History of the Present programs have attracted prominent public intellectuals and distinguished scholars of Palestine, on such topics as the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement. CPS has hosted prominent public intellectuals, such as Cornel West, Judith Butler, Noam Chomsky, Robin Kelly, Eyal Weizman and Angela Davis, who have appeared together with numerous major scholars of Palestine, including our own Rashid Khalidi, Nadia Abu El-Haj, Lila Abu-Lughod, and Mahmood Mamdani.  

Our Jerusalem Project (described earlier) is the latest addition to CPS programming and research areas. It includes a web presence, starting with a historical newspaper collection and including the Jerusalem Quarterly and maps.

Academic Review Committee (2017)

The faculty committee for the ARC review of the Center for Palestine Studies stated:  

Capitalizing on a rich Columbia tradition, which to a large extent originated in Edward Said’s presence at the university (1963-2003), and continued with the hiring of a number of important specialists, the center has been remarkably successful in its mission to define the contours and establish the field of Palestinian Studies in the United States. To this day, it is the only center entirely devoted to the study of Palestine in the western hemisphere.

The reviewers continued that they

have been struck by the dynamism, quality and variety of research and outreach activities of CPS. The center has already achieved scholarly quality and public recognition. 

Based on the recommendations of the final ARC report, Arts & Sciences is considering the following:

  • a match for the existing outside funding that supports the center’s Ibrahim Abu-Lughod Post-doctoral Fellowship. These matching funds would “allow the fellowship to be extended from one semester to a full academic year,” and the incumbent would “help coordinate the intellectual dimension of the center’s programs and could also teach a course.”
  • a continuation of the existing administrative support for the center, “permitting the hire of a more experienced administrator who could both teach and administer.”