The 8th Conference for Palestinian doctoral students, organized by Mada al-Carmel Center for Applied Social Research, was held on the 30th of July 2022 in Nazareth at the Golden Crown Hotel. The event gathered a significant number of respected academics and university students from all parts of the Palestinian community. This summary presents the key themes, ideas and considerations that have transpired from the conference.
Inaugurating the conference with an opening statement presenting Mada’s postgraduate program and its various components, Dr. Areen Hawari, Director of the Gender Studies Program in Mada al-Carmel, highlighted the program’s mission to support the critical thinking, research and knowledge production of all Palestinian doctoral students. She also stressed Mada’s commitment to provide Palestinian researchers with a supportive space to present and discuss the results of their research in Arabic.
This was followed by an opening remark from Dr. Sonia Boulos, lecturer at the Department of International Relations and Law at the Universidad Antonio Nebrija in Madrid and member of Mada al-Carmel’s Research Committee. Her intervention, titled “Between passion, commitment, and pragmatism: On academic life challenges”, underscored the detrimental tendency of academic classifications and standards to turn teaching and research into a burden on the academic, rather than an expression of passion and a desire for knowledge production. Dr. Boulos concluded her speech by sharing with the audience the various means to confront the prevailing academic hegemony, among them are refraining from treating knowledge production as a fashion and refusing to surrender to attempts of academic exclusion.
The first panel discussion, entitled “Identity formation: The role of history and memory”, was moderated by Dr. Areej Sabbagh-Khoury, a Lecturer at the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and member of the Administrative Board of Mada al-Carmel. During this first panel, three students presented an overview of their research.
‘Aliyah Zu’bi, PhD candidate in International Law from the University of Exeter in England, gave a presentation titled: ““Examining a feminist and anti-Colonial legal representation model based on the experiences of Palestinian women” In her research, she examines the complex adversities faced by Palestinian women when fighting for justice and representation in the Israeli courts on matters related to traumatic events and colonialism. She concluded her intervention by proposing the innovative idea of adpoting a feminist anti-colonial judicial model.
Hanaa Khalifa-Younis, a PhD candidate at the Department of Leadership and Educational Policy at the University of Haifa, gave the second presentation entitled : “Creating a cosmopolitan identity for Palestinians in Israel in educational fields.” She began her presentation by exploring and briefly summarizing the concept of “cosmopolitanism”. She then discussed the question of feelings surrounding national identity among Palestinian youth in three educational fields: schools, youth movements, and higher education. During her presentation, she emphasized the need for education to focus on questions of identity given the complexity of identity matters for Palestinian Arabs in Israel as they reconcile with belonging to both an Israeli and a Palestinian national and civic identity.
The third presentation was given by Rula Shahwan, a PhD candidate at the Department of Film Culture and Archiving at the Goethe University of Frankfurt in Germany, and was titled as follows: “Archive-based Israeli knowledge production: Documentary film production as a model”. She highlighted the outstanding importance of the archiving process in the documentation and transmission of our Palestinian narrative, as well as in the preservation of memory in light of Israel’s endless attempts to silence the voice of Palestinian victims and convey the story of Palestine from a colonial perspective.
Ending the first panel of presentations, Dr. Areej Sabbagh-Khoury commented on all three presentations, providing insights and sharing observations. After opening the floor to the public for questions, Dr. Areej concluded the first panel by emphasizing the socio-political importance of the three research topics, as well as the fundamental role Mada al-Carmel played in selecting research of such high relevance.
Dr. Hanin Karawani-Khoury, a Lecturer and Researcher at the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders at the Faculty of Social Welfare and Health Sciences at the University of Haifa, moderated the second session entitled: “Mechanisms of communication and empathy and their possibilities for growth in educational and therapeutic contexts.”. This session also consisted of three different presentations.
Nagham Baranisah, a PhD candidate at the Department of Counseling and Human Development at the University of Haifa, gave the first presentation: “The contribution of short-term intervention among parents of children diagnosed with autism to develop growth mentality, ease parental stress, and promote growth after crises.” In her presentation, she gave an overview of the factors influencing personal development and the level of psychological pressure among parents of children diagnosed with autism in Israel’s Arab community. She concluded the presentation by elaborating on three models and factors for the treatment plan she developed during her research.
Nur Kassem, a PhD candidate in the Psychology Department at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, gave the second presentation: “Sympathy towards the least privileged member in the context of a dominant group.” She highlighted the highly charged emotional experiences faced by Palestinian students participating in Israel’s academic life when dealing with bilingualism. Moreover, she points to the negative feelings that arise from the use of the colonizer’s language (the language of the dominant group), which is the de facto second language of Palestinians in Israel.
Maha Khalil Yahya, a PhD candidate at the Department of Leadership and Educational Policy at the University of Haifa, gave the third and final presentation: “Education for political imagination in Arabic schools in Israel: Possibilities, challenges and obstacles”. She first gave an insight into the concept of “political imagination” and its utmost importance in understanding the political reality faced by individuals. She stressed how imagination gives people the ability to change their reality. Moreover, she presented practical strategies to develop the term “political imagination” among students in Arab schools within the Palestinian territories.
Professor Ayman Agbaria, President of the Research Committee at Mada al-Carmel Center and co-founder of the Postgraduate Students Support Program, concluded the conference expressing his gratitude to the Center’s staff and the conference’s academic committee. He emphasized the importance of promoting and supporting research among the emerging generation of Palestinian scholars.
As part of its commitment to help students develop their research skills in the best possible way, Mada al-Carmel ended the conference with the distribution of annual grants to the students participating in the seminar.