We are pleased to announce that Dr Anne Irfan (Departmental Lecturer in Forced Migration) has won this year’s Contemporary Levant Best Paper Award for her paper ‘Petitioning for Palestine: Refugee appeals to international authorities.’
The evaluating committee, made up of trustees of the Council for British Research in the Levant (CBRL) and Contemporary Levant’s editorial board, selected the winning paper for its engagement with sources and for successfully pushing past the parameters of a well-examined subject area to find a unique approach, as well as advancing our understanding of the histories of petitioning.
The winning article will be available, open access, in Contemporary Levant later this year. Its abstract is:
In the second half of the 20th century, stateless Palestinian refugees regularly submitted petitions to international authorities, particularly the UN. In these petitions, the refugees demanded their rights and invoked the UN’s liberal internationalist discourse to assert the justice of their cause. This article explores what these petitions reveal about contentious politics among the Palestinian grass roots in the refugee camps. In so doing, it recasts Palestinian refugee camp communities as internationally engaged and politically savvy, showing that they were key actors in the nationalist struggle. By unpacking the petitions’ internationalist aspects, the article also situates Palestinian refugee history within the broader context of post-war global governance. Finally, the analysis presented challenges the state-centrism of existing historiography on petitioning, which examines the practice largely in relation to the growth of the state. By contrast, the case study of Palestinian petitioning shows that the practice can also be important in a setting of statelessness. This article therefore makes a series of contributions to understanding not only Palestinian political history, but also the practice of petitioning and the dynamics of post-war internationalism.