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  • Department of Global Development
  • Global Development

Seminar in Critical Development Studies hosted by Cornell Global Development and the Graduate Field of Development Sociology


Despite being under occupation, surrounded by checkpoints and settlements, and subject to military incursion, the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank is today building a state in and through private development and neoliberal practice. The putative state is almost entirely dependent on international financial aid and political support, and it increasingly and officially emphasizes private investment and privatization as a form of public service. The Palestinian Authority is working to build stable institutions in an environment of pervasive scarcity—of land, mobility, and sovereignty. Paradoxically, as I will argue, they are also redistributing instability downwards.

The dynamic and productive processes in the West Bank can help us understand how it might be possible to construct a state as a particular social and geographical scale within which market relations can be organized. In Palestine, it is a scale that does not depend on clearly defined national boundaries. The Palestinian state is a hybrid of government, aid conditions, and private initiative; a case that allows us to examine neoliberalism in some new and concrete ways. If neoliberal governance is often what remains post state roll-back, what does it mean to produce it from scratch? These are huge questions that operate at local, regional, and global scales. This talk will tell that story from the middle, and describe practices around an officially stated Palestinian Authority “national priority to develop affordable housing.” As the PA developed that priority, its practices bridged geographical scales and aggregated state authority to certain goals. As they remade governance, they established new markets in housing and finance alongside new physical places and contexts for social reproduction.

About the speaker: 

Kareem Rabie is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at The University of Illinois, Chicago. His work focuses on privatization, urban development, and the state-building project in the West Bank, and he is the author of Palestine is Throwing a Party and the Whole World is Invited: Capital and State Building in the West Bank, which came out last summer from Duke University Press.

Previously he was Assistant Professor of Anthropology at American University in Washington, DC; Harper-Schmidt Fellow at the University of Chicago; and Marie Curie Fellow/Senior Researcher at the University of Oxford Centre on Migration, Policy, and Society (COMPAS). 

Kareem spent 2020-2021 on research leave supported by the ACLS, the Wenner-Gren Foundation, and the Graham Foundation for Advancement in the Fine Arts, and was a visiting fellow at CUNY’s Center for Place, Culture, and Politics; and Committee on Globalization and Social Change.

Headshot of Kareem Rabie

Date & Time

March 11, 2022
3:00 pm - 4:30 pm

More information about this event.

Contact Information

Kelly Merchan, Communications specialist, Global Development

  • kim28 [at]


Kareem Rabie, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, University of Illinois, Chicago


Department of Global Development

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