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Georgetown University (2018)

Planting Palestine : The Political Economy of Olive Culture in the 20th-Century Galilee and West Bank

Reger, Jeffrey Drew

Titre : Planting Palestine : The Political Economy of Olive Culture in the 20th-Century Galilee and West Bank

Auteur : Reger, Jeffrey Drew

Université de soutenance : Georgetown University

Grade : Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) 2018

The olive tree has become a central symbol of Palestinian nationalism, signifying sumud or steadfastness. Its importance to contemporary Palestinian society in the West Bank, both culturally and economically, is unparalleled. The significance of the olive tree and its commodities is a result of long-term trends over the course of the 20th century : above all, the Palestinian modernization of a deeper history of olive cultivation, and its nationalist politicization amidst the territorial reduction of historic Palestine. Drawing on agricultural, forestry, development, economic, and other records located in archives and libraries in Israel, Jordan, and the West Bank, as well as American, British, and French diplomatic archives, this dissertation reconstructs the political economy of olives in the Galilee and the West Bank across the upheavals of the 20th century. In addition to utilizing previously unexamined governmental reports, correspondence, and statistics in Arabic, English, French, and Hebrew, as well as petitions, letters, and telegrams from ordinary Palestinians preserved in these archives, it also draws upon rare published primary sources in Arabic by technical experts (agronomists, agricultural engineers, and others) assessing the olive sector and its prospects. The period of study begins before the turn of the 20th century, encapsulates World War I and the end of the Ottoman Empire, extends through the British Mandate and the Nakba of 1948 to address the fate of Palestinians remaining in the Israeli Galilee, and concludes with analyses of West Bank olive culture under first Jordanian rule and then the Israeli occupation after 1967. Doing so allows for a comparative view of Palestinian society over time under these different governments, reframing state-society relations in the Ottoman, British, Jordanian, and Israeli periods. Throughout, the state and policymakers are decentered from the narrative of Palestinian history. This study questions deterministic understandings of hegemonic governmentality by focusing on how Palestinians responded to, resisted, shaped, supported, or disrupted state ambitions and policies, which paradoxically depend upon the indigenous knowledge of subalterns or subordinate groups. Continued development of the olive sector has resulted in growing costs and surplus production, which necessitated internal adaptations and external supports, but raise questions of sustainability.

Mots Clés  : Galilee ; Middle East ; Olives and olive oil ; Palestine ; West Bank ; Middle East — History ; Middle East — Research ; Middle Eastern history ; Middle Eastern studies ;


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